Nicholas Madrigal– Academics
Nominated by Montgomery County
In June 2015 Nicholas’ mother was concerned that Nicholas was not reading, could not write a sentence, and did not know all of his numbers. With the assistance of special education teachers, and an intense plan of action to address his significant deficits. While he recognized all of his letters, he could not identify all of the sounds. He was unable to blend sounds together to make a word. He had developed learned helplessness in all areas. He was picture reading books. It took excessive retraining to get him to begin to use strategies to decode words and realize that each letter represented a sound and the sounds put together made a word. During his fifth grade year, Nicholas was immersed in intense reading and math instruction multiple times throughout the day. By the end of the year, he was able to write a complete sentence, read at a K.8 level, and add and subtract single digit numbers. He is excelling in the resource settings and transferring those skills into the general education setting. Science is his favorite subject and he is a leader in that classroom. He is able to write a paragraph now that is focused on the topic, read on a second grade level (close to 3rd), knows all 223 Dolch sight words, and adds multiple digits with and without regrouping and subtracts without regrouping. Nick has made tremendous academic progress in these last two years.
Jordan Guill– Self-Advocacy
Nominated by Paducah Independent School District
Jordan does not let her disability define her, but she lets her strengths and her will to succeed guide her way. Jordan’s disability affects her in every area of her life: education, communication, physical functioning, and daily care. Jordan struggles with retaining information; she also struggles with fine and gross motor functioning. Jordan is exceptional because she participates in activities that are challenging to her. She is able to identify these challenges and create strategies to overcome them. She consistently keeps this attitude, which sets her apart from her same aged peers. Jordan advocates for herself by participating in community activities. Jiu Jitsu is an activity that she enjoys and benefits from greatly. She not only learns self-defense skills, but also fine and gross motor skills. Fine and gross motor skills are huge obstacles that Jordan faces in every aspect of her life. Due to her continued martial arts training, she has developed the understanding of the importance of physical fitness, how to handle a situation with a bully, and how to appropriately conduct herself with same aged peers. Jordan is consistently optimistic in every situation. She chooses to continue to improve her communication skills by actively engaging and initiating conversations.
Jessica Keffer - Arts
Nominated by Breathitt County
Miss Keffer has incredible artistic talents. She has used this talent to become a published author. Her passion for drawing unique characters, combined with her love of books, inspired her to write her first book, The Half Penguin and Half Girl. The characters from Jessica's book explains the many twist and turns, ups and downs, and even confusions experienced while navigating through the high school years. With the assistance of the Breathitt County School District and support from other agencies, Jessica was introduced to local artist, Christopher Epling who helped her through the publishing process. Ms. Keffer recently had her first book signing. This year, she has incorporated her own production company called "Story Life Books". Miss Keffer plans to continue to grow as an artist, so she can pursue a career in the field of animation. She hopes her book will serve as a reminder to others, to always follow their dreams, no matter what challenges they face in life.