We sat down with Madi's Mom Laurie before a Speaker Series event this week. "Star has been life-changing, not only for my daughter, but for our whole family. [Husband] Dan and I looked all over the Bay Area for the right school for Madi. We didn't even know Star existed at that point. It made us see how much we had in common  in that we wanted to find the best fit for Madi. When we came to Star five years ago, it just came together."

Laurie describes pre-Star Madi as "so insecure" and "quiet as a church mouse."  Most poignantly, "She was afraid of being wrong."

After her first day of shadowing at Star, Madi reported back, "They'd call on me and I knew the answers! People were nice to me. They wanted to talk to me! I HAVE to go to this school, Mommy!"

We at Star have been proud to witness Madi's growth. She's made such terrific progress in becoming a self-advocate and doing work independently. She's continuing to flourish and she's on the path to shine! She's devoted to her friends and desperately wants everybody to be happy.

Laurie has been active in volunteering at Star and connecting with other parents. "I love the resources and parent support. I can talk freely here. Other people understand and don't judge. There is a sense of belonging at Star."

If you had seen Victoria (the 6th grader) when she first arrived at Star, she probably wouldn't have had much to say to you. Now Victoria (the 12th grader) will talk as long as you will listen.

Victoria was adopted from China by a Mill Valley family. Her mother described her as "selectively mute." During her first year at Star, she was afraid to talk because she was afraid of making mistakes. She would only speak to teacher Jesse who turned out to be the one to encourage her love of basketball, despite her physical limitations. Jesse now coaches her on the varsity basketball team where she's one of just two girls.

Her favorite thing about Star is the teachers. Her favorite class is math. She has especially thrived in her Living Skills classes with Joanne. She loves to cook and do laundry. In fact, her family is thrilled that Victoria wants to do the whole household's laundry.

She has one more year at Star and then she would like to be a physical therapist, an assistant basketball coach and a teacher's aide at Star.

Editor's note: Victoria was excited about being in the spotlight for this story - so much so that she politely let it be known that she wanted to do the interviews and photos on her own and not with her family. She has definitely embraced the independence that Star teaches!

Portraits of Success

At Star Academy, we see success every day, in many ways. Following are stories of students, families and staff members who experience Star Academy success.


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