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Student Stories

Student Stories - JessJess:

"I hated school; people I thought were my friends were mean; other students laughed and threw rocks at me, teachers compared me to others without looking more closely at why I was struggling. By math 11, the teacher agreed to pass me as long as I never took math again because I didn't have the skills to move forward; no matter how hard I worked, I just didn't get it. That agreement alone was one of my worst life choices.

I felt like a complete failure, like I would never find a job or be able to support myself. I was so scared that I became severely depressed and spent years bouncing in and out of a psych ward on a carousel of meds that only made things worse. At some point the system didn't know what to do with me anymore and kicked me out; instead of school, I spent time in nature and learned to meditate and found a lot of healing. After years of doing easy to get but mindlessly boring jobs I became frustrated enough to face my fear. I'd experienced enough struggle that I knew I was smart because I was alive, like a cockroach at the apocalypse.

In the past I couldn't afford to go to school, but at Street School, courses are free, and they even provide binders, pens, papers, books - everything needed so that anyone can go. There are hot lunches twice a week, which creates the feeling of being in a very loved and nurturing space.

One of my favorite things is that it's not in a school, the musky scent of lockers doesn't haunt me here, this is a fresh space to entirely recreate my perception of those awful school halls.

The teachers are so incredibly kind and understanding, I cried the first time I came in because I had never felt so understood or supported in this way that only a teacher can. They don't judge me; they understand how challenging this journey is for me and most of all they believe in me when most of the others didn't have time or care.

The schedule is flexible, so there is time to work and pay my bills and still come in in the evenings if I need to.

After only a short time with the patience and support of these incredible teachers, this small mall space has completely changed my life forever. I feel like a bit of a fool really. I've realized I'm not the same person I was 20 years ago, conceptually I think much differently, and the concepts that seemed impossible I understand quickly now. When I do encounter a problem, the teachers have time to help me understand.

One of the biggest problems was that I didn't even know what job I even wanted to do, I felt hopeless adrift with no direction, it never made sense, but now it's easy to see that it was such a deeply rooted fear that it entirely blocked the perception of any possibilities. Suddenly possibilities, are popping up left right and centre because they're real possibilities, I really believe in myself.

For the first time in my life I believe in myself, in my future and in my own personal security in a deeply fundamental way that no amount of psychotherapy or medications could fix. Street School has been a life changing shift of perception on a fundamental level of doing the work, the right work.

Street school is the perfect name, I love it. It truly is a school for real life."

Student Stories - ShilohShiloh:

Shiloh graduated from Street School in June 2022 and was invited to speak at our ceremony. This is an excerpt from her speech:

"I was a high school dropout. I dropped out in Grade 8 and became a teenage mom, and not graduating was something that I always regretted as my kids grew up.

It was the fear that kept me from walking in the door, the fear of failure, or not being smart enough. That fear kept me from walking through these doors for 24 years, and I ended up falling into alcohol and drug addiction. When I got better and got into recovery, recovery has taught me that you face your fears, and you hold goals for yourself. And so I was left with a choice at that point because it was something that was really important to me.

And the choice was, am I going to allow the fear to keep me from doing something that I really want to do? Or am I going to face the fear by walking in the door?

To someone not sure about coming back to school, I would say that it definitely can be done, that you should go, and that if it's something you really want, do it. Because the only thing that's holding you back is yourself and your fears."

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