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Spotlight on Student Success
Graduate shares experiences, advice for students

Amy Shapiro is a 2012 graduate of Parkway Central High School. Below, she shares her experiences as a student receiving services from SSD and her advice to other students.

“As a student who received SSD services, I can definitely say I graduated high school as a stronger person,” Amy said. “I had modified credit for most of my classes. I always took the challenge to ignore it so that I could prepare for college. I got the copy of the notes, modified tests, modified worksheets, and many other adaptations and accommodations.”

What are you doing today?

I am a student at St. Louis Community College in Wildwood taking classes so that I can work my way up to becoming a freshmen, get my general education classes out of my way, and achieve my dream by earning my music therapy degree and special education degree. I also give respite services, volunteer at Stages, help with Autism Speaks, help with the Miss Amazing pageant and help out at my high school.

How have SSD staff and services helped you achieve your goals?

The SSD staff were incredible when they worked with me. Many times, I wasn’t the best student because I wanted everything to go my way. They helped me reach my goal by making me realize that colleges have their own way of doing work and assignments. Another incredible thing they helped me understand is that college is not for everybody and there are other ways to be successful. That’s why I’m in the process of creating a backup plan to open up my own respite business, so that I can have something to fall back on. The quotes I will never forget from these teachers are “We are here to help prepare you for success, not failure” and “Always come up with a backup plan to fall on. You have to make tiny goals to reach the big goals that may take a lot longer for you. College is not like high school. The teacher won’t chase you down to ask where your homework is.”

What advice do you have for other students?

Listen to your teachers! Everybody has an inspirational story that they take the time to speak from their heart just because they care. Find a support system. Having an individualized educational plan (IEP) takes a lot of people to come together as a team and agree on what accommodations, adaptations, and modifications take place. Use that team as a support system for yourself. As a student, whether you like the teacher or not, they will listen to you as long as you respect them.

Always find somebody to trust when there are issues, listen to their advice, and take it for what it’s worth. Go somewhere with their words of encouragement. There are people out there who believe in you and care. Stick up for what you believe is right. Everybody has something good to say, and if people can’t hear your voice, ways of expressing how you feel, or what you’re thinking then people assume you don’t care.

Make your life become all that you want it to be and say what you need to say. It can help you stay strong through the tough times when it comes to having a disability. Not every time you speak out will be as beneficial as you want it to, but no matter what, be proud because you were brave enough to share something that has a great point and value for you.

Amy also recently wrote a book about her experiences. Click here for more information.

Amy Shapiro
Amy Shapiro

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Special School District of St. Louis County (SSD) is a leader in providing special education services to students with disabilities and also provides a wide range of career and technical education programs.
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