Friday, May 26, 2017

Kayla Dixon: AOC Senior Hopes Graduation Brings Stability

Ask Kayla Dixon where she went to school and you might get more than you bargained for.

The graduating senior at SBISD’s Academy of Choice (AOC) will tell you that she’s likely been to every school in the Spring Branch area.

“We moved around a lot, in the heart of Spring Branch,” Kayla said. And around HISD too. During high school alone, she’s attended Lamar High School in HISD, the Academy of Choice in SBISD, Waltrip High School in HISD, Spring Woods High School then back to AOC.

And she was pulled from public schools when she was a freshman to be home-schooled. That didn’t really work out, Kayla said, and put her far behind her public school classmates. “It took me about two years to catch up,” she said.

With graduation – she’ll walk across the stage on May 27 with Spring Woods High School, her home school – she hopes for more stability in her life.

Kayla’s father was a maintenance man at apartment complexes, so wherever he landed a job was where the family lived. Her father and mother divorced when Kayla was 2, and her mother has since been in and out of her life.

Kayla is the primary caregiver for her father, now disabled, a job she gets paid to do, and a disabled aunt who lives with them. But she doesn’t get paid for a daily routine of waking up at 6 a.m., getting her little sister, 7, ready for school then doing chores around the house before heading off to school herself. The pattern repeats when she comes home from school.

“I’m the mother of the house,” she said.

She’s also serves as mother to her younger sister, a first-grader who’s already been to three different schools.

Kayla, 19, yearns for independence and wants a full-time job upon graduation, to start saving up for a car. Then she’ll start thinking about more education, possibly HCC, she said, and maybe something culinary because she likes cooking.

“I feel like when I have more control over my finances I’ll be less a child and more an adult,” she said. “I don’t want to move around so much, and I want more stability for my little sister.”

Director Jill Wright said that AOC is tailor-made for students like Kayla, who she said is “pretty characteristic” of an AOC student.

“(AOC) is a place for kids who have fallen behind, for whatever reason,” Wright said. “They can earn more credits per year here. Teachers will go way beyond the norm to help students.”

AOC students can earn up to nine credits a year through a variety of methods, including night school, “mini-mesters” – semester courses condensed into several weeks – and courses that cram a year’s worth of material into a semester.

AOC held a graduation celebration for its 60 graduating seniors on Wednesday, May 17. But like Kayla, many will also choose to graduate with their home schools on Saturday, May 27.

Kayla is a former self-harmer who signed a non-suicide contract with AOC. But she said that she doesn’t have time to worry about herself now, that she has too many other things going on.

She said she mostly goes to school and does her work at home, that she’s grown-up when she has to be but has rules put on her otherwise, such as curfews. Still, she does occasionally go out with friends.

An ‘A’ student, Kayla realizes the value of education.

“You can’t be good at home and bad at school,” she said. “It doesn’t work like that. That’s why I don’t understand kids who don’t like school.

“It’s the most important thing.”

by Rusty Graham


Post a Comment

Do you have feedback? Tell us.