Home life was a toxic environment for Ethan, with his parents constantly yelling and fighting. Then because of their drug abuse, he and his little brother were placed in the foster care system. Unfortunately, there wasn’t an available family who could take them both, so they were separated. This was traumatizing for Ethan and something he is still working to overcome.


After middle school, he was not looking forward to high school and knew he would not do well in a bigger school. He felt he would be lost in a sea of students. His aunt heard about Learn4Life and enrolled him as a 9th grader – and Ethan soon began to flourish.


“There were fewer kids and positive teachers who actually understand you,” he said. “This is an environment that’s not filled with negativity and drama. All the staff made an impact on me because they are always positive and help me whenever I’m stuck.”


Learn4Life’s personalized learning model was customized to Ethan’s needs. Small group instruction and one-on-one teaching gave him confidence and allowed him to advance faster than he would in a traditional school. A trauma-informed approached helped him deal with his many challenges outside of school. The flexible schedule enabled him to pursue a love of gymnastics and spend time with his family. He joined a student trip to Washington D.C., a highlight of his time at Learn4Life.


“I don’t know where I would be without this school. I learned to stand up and voice my needs, which had a huge impact on me,” he said. “Others were trying to do what was best for me – both in and out of the courtroom – without listening to me or asking my opinion.” He learned to be an advocate for himself to get the physical and mental services he needed, and the services that would help him become independent.


Ethan is on a path to graduate early and his goals are to go to college, get a job and learn to drive. His teachers and counselors motivate him by constantly checking in with him to discuss goals, deadlines and any new job and community service opportunities. They taught him how to write a resume and handle job interviews.


“Even if times are hard and you’re at your lowest point, reach out to people who will lift you up and once you’ve been lifted, do the same for others who need the same lift.”


Written By:
Ann Abajian
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