DeMaurie Upchurch is a fifth-grade student at Westridge Elementary in the Rockwood School District, and is a true example of how perseverance and hard work lead to great accomplishments. To say he’s faced many difficult obstacles in his life would be an understatement, and that has caused him to grow up faster than most other elementary students, according to his teacher and Individualized Education Program (IEP) team.
Losing his mother unexpectedly in kindergarten was a trigger to problem behaviors for DeMaurie—as it would be for anyone, let alone a young child. DeMaurie’s IEP team determined that a change of placement to a separate SSD school would be the best option to meet his behavioral needs. Two years later, it was decided that he was ready to transition back to the partner district setting. With all of this change in a short amount of time, DeMaurie was hesitant to let new people into his life. However, after continued support and a clear message of high expectations for him, he eventually began to open up and change began to happen.
Due to his behavior issues, he fell behind his peers in his academics. Obviously frustrated by this, DeMaurie doubled down and worked hard to make progress, celebrating his growth and newfound strengths. Along the way, he increased his ability to independently use calming strategies and ask for help when he became frustrated, resulting in decreased paraprofessional support and increased time in the general education setting.
He now sets high goals and expectations for himself. “I have no doubt that he will rise to those expectations,” said his teacher, Katie Blum. “He has learned the value of hard work and the feeling of pride in himself when he is able to accomplish his goals. I feel honored to be his teacher.”