EJ is a thriving 18-year-old ALL Academy student who joined the Aspire community several years ago. At the time, he was very shy. He also had some unique challenges.
Paintings and graffiti were upsetting, even scary, to him. EJ would not look at graffiti or even in its direction. He would keep his head down, and it was hard for him to walk past graffiti-covered walls, or even look at a person sitting in front of a painting.
His mom, Blossom, said that his fear started to change at ALL Academy. “There were more services for him, more programs for him. . .They worked with him every day to let him know it was okay. He used to be scared of these things. Now he’s all right with it. We go to the mall and the movie theatre, and he sees the pictures, and he can walk right by.”
EJ has some unique talents, too. He’s a movie expert, especially in action movies; “I’m an action guy.” His favorite actor is Arnold Schwarzenegger. His favorite memory at ALL Academy is the talent show, where the audience asked him questions about movies and he answered them all. That appreciation for his talents and strengths has helped him make friends. He has several good buddies now.
EJ’s mom reports that at school “he talks a lot, he answers questions. He opens up quite a bit more than when he first started.” She says that, like many teens, “he doesn’t want to talk about school when he gets home.” To which EJ answers, “That’s life!”
EJ has made good academic progress at ALL Academy too. He reports, “Learning is a little easier now.” And Blossom notes, “once he gets it, he gets it, and he’s ready to move on.” EJ really appreciates his relationship with the teachers, “They’re very special to me.”
EJ entered the ALL Academy transition program this year. He’s taking math, science, psychology, and life skills, but also spending more time in the community. He is learning to cook and shop as well as participating in career assessments. EJ is looking forward to having a job, and Blossom would like to see him start vocational training. College is a possibility, too. Exploring his options and getting ready to move on is what the transition program is all about.
At ALL Academy, EJ is discovering his passions, unlocking potential and thriving. According to Blossom, “They’re wonderful with the kids. It’s a good program.”