2017 Recipients

Congratulations to the 2017 Yes I Can! Award Winners!

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 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. 

Jordan Guill– Self-Advocacy

Nominated by Paducah Independent School District

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.

Damon is a very happy young man who meets no stranger. He is not afraid to talk to anyone even though his speech is very difficult to understand. His peers know and adore him. Not only is Damon popular at school, his family makes sure he gets out into the public and socializes. He also attends a local church. He participates in Special Olympics; he does field and track, snowshoeing, basketball and bowling. In the beginning of the school year, Damon worked closely with the football team and transition worker to be the manager for the football team. His responsibilities included preparing water and getting it to the players when needed. He would always carry it out on the field for the team. However, what is very important to know, is that Damon led his team out on the field at every game. He would also lead his team in prayer at the games. At times, he would also lead the team in prayers after the game. By Damon participating and assisting the team, it has allowed him to be a part of the team, and letting others know and understand that he can do things that they did not know he was capable of. He has worked at Hometown Pizza, Coopers and Down on Main, all local restaurants in our local town. He is a shining example of how a person can overcome their disabilities and be successful in their communities. In the classroom and outside of the classroom, if Damon sees someone is in need of prayers he would ask if he can pray for you and if given the okay Damon will pray an heart felt prayer.


Damon Maines– School and Community

Nominated by Carroll County Schools


Joseph Matney– Technology

Nominated by Green County

Even though Joe has encountered a number of challenges during his life, the use of technology has allowed him to excel academically. When Joe transitioned from First Steps, he was non-verbal.  Joe lives with his grandmother, who reports that he uses the Kindle every day. At school, Joe is able to access Star Fall on the kindle and access YouTube and Star Fall on the touch screen computer independently. Joe locates websites using bookmarks. He utilizes the smart table as well. During classroom instruction, Joe is able to participate by using the smart board and the I-pad. When appropriate Joe uses the CD player in the classroom. His verbal communication continues to improve due to his technology usage. According to his teacher, since Joe is utilizing the IPAD, Kindle Fire, Smart Table, Smart Board more frequently his communication skills have improved which has positively impacted his interactions with adults and peers.

Ella has climbed mountains in her development. She is visually, physically, and cognitively impaired, but that does not stop Miss Ella. Through her work with a vision teacher, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and special education staff, Ella has consistently achieved her goals. Because Ella believes that she can, she does. Miss Ella Wright is active in her local Family and Consumer Science courses and club. She has served as the teacher’s assistant to her local advisor and has completed at the local, regional, and state competition in the area of job interview in modified and unmodified divisions. Miss Ella has won at the regional and state levels of FCCLA by show casing her interview skills related to her future goal of being employed as a secretary.  Ella has had to advocate for herself and her needs. She has had to educate others on the transition and employment needs of those with disabilities, especially the needs of those with visual impairments in gaining employment. Ella is always upfront and honest. She has overcome transition obstacles such as educating possible employers on the use of her assistive technology, explaining that her signature is electronic, and her need to complete an application through use of technology. Ella has even had to overcome obstacles such as inaccessible locations for interviewing.   With adult assistance, Ella is actively engaged in learning new skills and increasing her employability. She has actively worked with the employment coordinator and the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation through the Community Work Transition Program.

Ella Wright– Transition

Nominated by Bracken County