Eighth-grader Caroline Jordan was recognized as Darlington's Optimist Club Student of the Semester at a special luncheon on Dec. 7.
In her speech, she talked about overcoming the challenges that come along with dyslexia thanks to Darlington's Accelerated Learning Program for Dyslexia and the support of her teachers and coaches.
"School has always been fun but hard. I am dyslexic," she shared. "I do not reverse letters when I write nor see letters backwards, which is a common thought. I do, however, have difficulty spelling and understanding what I read."
Jordan was diagnosed in fifth grade after struggling to write a review of "The Chronicles of Narnia."
"Thankfully about the same time, Darlington introduced the Accelerated Learning Program for Dyslexia, a program designed to help students like me, students with dyslexia," she said. "However, being dyslexic does not only impact English classes – it impacts your entire life. Having always loved basketball, I found it difficult to follow plays and was always a step behind. Once I was diagnosed and understood more about the way my brain is wired, I realized that I wasn’t 'slow' – it just takes an extra second to process what Is going on around me. Dyslexia does not go away and cannot be cured; therefore, I have to learn how to see the world differently – in the classroom, on the basketball court and in life."
Jordan went on to share that in fifth grade she was shy, timid and terrified to speak or read in class due to her dyslexia.
"I lacked confidence because of my learning difference," she said. "However, Mrs. Paige Rogers, Mrs. Kristen Bell and Coach Samantha Rush stepped into my life all at the same time. Mrs. Rogers, my advisor and school mom, is real – she is honest and kind, an encourager, and I know she believes in me because she tells me. Her daily encouragement helped build my confidence in the classroom and, in turn, on the basketball court. Mrs. Bell serves in the Accelerated Learning Program. She is my 'go to' for all things academic. She has taught me how to read for understanding, how to dissect Greek and Latin words, how to determine the main idea of a passage, but most importantly how to use my voice and advocate for myself.
"And because of Mrs. Rogers and Mrs. Bell helping me find success in the classroom, I in turn began to find success on the basketball court," Jordan continued. "No, I am not a top scorer, and I am still learning many needed skills, but my confidence has grown. Coach Rush believed in the tiny fifth-grader that had only played one season of rec ball and she believes in me now. She has found cool ways to teach me plays – ways to help me visualize the plays, physically walking me through each play until it becomes second nature, and all while having fun playing a game we both love. Basketball does not define me but neither does dyslexia."
Rogers could not be more proud of Jordan and was thankful to have the opportunity to present her award to her at the Optimist Club luncheon.
"Caroline is 100% A Darlington Tiger, a school leader and a loyal friend. This young lady will always stand up for what is right," said Rogers. "Caroline stands out because it is evident that she has a heart of gold. She is always going to strive to do her best, no matter how difficult the task at hand may be. Once shy and timid, now strong and fierce!"
Jordan has been a Darlington student since kindergarten. In addition to playing basketball, she is a member of the volleyball and soccer teams as well as Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Her goal is to attend Auburn University after high school. She is the daughter of Molly and Jason Jordan of Cedartown, Ga.