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WJHS student doesn’t let disability stop him

Andrew Pizzino, a special education student at West Jessamine High School, is being recognized for his work and presentation of his progress through his self-initiated Individual Education Program.

Highlighting his struggles from the beginning of his life and his perseverance to overcome his reading and writing disability, Pizzino presented a PowerPoint for his annual review in front of the admissions and release committee that Trenton Fields, special education teacher at WJHS, said was remarkable.

“Honestly you go into the process and don’t realize what you are going to get,” Fields said. “You go into the process and you get something exceptional. I met a student at the end of last year that I thought would be perfect for this. I approached him at the beginning of this year and asked if he would be interested and he was. I introduced him he took complete control. He went through his power point and it was done all by himself. I added in writing when he told me what to type (but) I didn’t really write anything for him, it was all his words.”

Fields said Pizzino has a reading and writing disability. Pizzino, he said, can read and write but it’s a struggle for him. Although, Fields said Pizzino does not use it as an excuse and does not let his issues hold him back.

Fields said that Pizzino presented in Interim Principal Marci Smith’s office in front of seven to eight adults. The presentation lasted 30 minutes,  and not only did Pizzino highlight his struggles, but also his plans to attend a welding school in Ohio after graduation. Fields said his presentation stands out due to the fact that most students come to the meetings and do not get involved.

“Kids come to the meetings and are bored and don’t understand what is going on or participate,” Fields said. “When kids are involved they care and excel more in the program.”

Superintendent Matt Moore said that Pizzino set an example of overcoming obstacles in his presentation.

“This young man is a true example of someone who has embraced the opportunities afforded to him and removed all of the surrounding barriers,” Moore said. “I am confident that his hard work and perseverance will result in a very bright future.”

Michelle Gadberry, director of special education for WJHS, said that she is excited about the work that teachers are being able to accomplish in the program for special education. Using this approach, she said students are able to have responsibility and ownership of their own Individual Education Program.

“Helping students learn about their strengths and challenges in order to advocate for themselves is an important life skill,” Gadberry said. “Using a student-directed approach to Individual Education Plan development involves the students in all aspects of the plan and gives them both responsibility for and ownership of their Individual Education Plan.”