By Kalea Derry
CISTN program manager, Coalfield High School
Alice has been with me for four years. I had her two older sisters when they were at Coalfield. When Alice was a freshman, she was so scared to talk in school. She would not ask for help and didn’t even tell her teachers that she went by Alice. She didn’t want anyone to think she was weird. I remember one day she came to me and said she couldn’t see in class. I told her to move to the front of the class and she was like, “Mrs. Derry, I can’t see at all without my glasses!” She had been coming to school with no glasses because she had broken them. It took her finally telling me to get them repaired and have her teachers type the notes until she could get them back. I say all this because that is how terribly shy she was. She did not rock the boat.
Now come to today. She is captain of the cheer team, works in our coffee shop and helps other students learn how to operate the shop, she is a leader with her peers, and never seems short of words. I look at how far she has come, and it amazes me that she was ever shy. On College App Day, we applied to several Tennessee schools, and she received two acceptance letters. We have made one visit to her first school and will take another in January.
Her road to this year has been paved with such sadness and adversity. She was raised by her grandparents because her mother died of a drug overdose in 2015. During this time, her father was in jail. In the past year, she has lost her grandfather, her brother to a drug overdose, her uncle to a drug overdose, and a cousin. Alice could have lost hope, but she keeps pushing to be the best she can be. She has overcome so much in her short time, and I am proud to have a front-row seat to see her make her own path.