It was in my late Junior year of high school where I attended Brunswick High School, GO PIRATES, that I was told by an advisor that I would never be allowed to attend college. Little did she know that she should not inform someone with determination that they cannot do something.
A little back story on why I was told this little tidbit. When I was about 6 or 7 in first grade around 1995, I was labeled with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and Learning Disorders (LD), LD may have come later, and since then I had been placed in Special Education classes. I was attending Altama Elementary School and Ms. Boggs was my regular ed’ teacher (I liked her) and her assistant did not like me because I was hyper (she hid me from the class). I attended regular classes; however, I was taken out of specific courses that I had difficulty learning in and placed in a different setting to learn at a different pace. Speed this up to Freshman year at Brunswick High School in 2002, I elected to take the Special Education diploma program under the impression that I could still go to college.
As you can believe, I was rolling through high school taking my classes and taking extra electives than other students and even having a whole classroom that I was allowed to use as a networking lab. I was permitted by the IT department to have those computers removed from the schools domain so that I may make adjustments as needed. If they had issues, they let me know and we worked to resolve them, there were rarely any.
One day in 2005, I was called into my advisor’s office to discuss my senior year classes and what I would be doing after that. When the topic of college came up, she then informed me that I would not ever be going to college because of my disability and the issues I had with my learning comprehension. This set my self-esteem lower than it had ever been lowered to before. Some more conversation happened and I left.
Fast forward 4 years, graduated high school in 2006 with the Special Education diploma, worked for Wal-Mart from 2006-2008, had a hard time locating work between October 2008 and January 2009, went to GED school around January of 2009. I had some money available and paid for 1 or 2 tests that I knew I could pass. I did some side work and Ms. Wanda Murray who needed computer help paid me what money I needed for the rest of my tests. I spent 3 months in GED school for 1 subject that most ADHD and LD people suffer with, Math. 1 or 2 of those months was for Writing and English. For Writing, I had to wait for accommodations to be approved and the Glynn County School System’s Materials Center provided me with a device called an AlphaSmart. Everyone of these tests I passed on the first attempt.
In late April of 2009, my GED instructor Mr. Johnathon Roy approached me regarding a special recognition for graduation day. He asked if I would accept the award of Student of the Year for the Brunswick Campus. Shocked and I said yes. I had many revisions of my speech. I saved both mine and his to provide in this series below:
Good evening students, faculty and guests. I am honored tonight toSpeech Given by: Johnathan Roy on May 6, 2009
introduce our next speaker, the Glynn County Student of the Year,
I have to tell you that I was impressed with Josh from the first night
he came to my class. Dressed in a tie and business clothes, Josh
entered my classroom with an outstretched hand and a friendly
greeting. He could have easily been mistaken for a young teacher.
He wasted no time explaining to me that he was there to prepare for
the two remaining tests of the GED – Language Arts/Writing and
Math and he was ready to jump right into the work.
It’s not unusual for students to leave class early the first night, but
Josh stayed in my classroom working until the janitor came in to
clean for the night. It was apparent that Josh wanted to take
advantage of every minute of class time. He didn’t have any time to
Over the course of the next several months Josh set his own personal
goals, and one by one he met them all. He did this by applying the
numerous organizational skills he had developed over his history of
Special Education classes. I wish all those teachers who worked with
Josh over the years could see man that Josh had become. I know
that each of them made an impact on his life.
It’s not surprising to Josh’s family and friends that he is a bit of a
computer geek. Let me clarify that, a very accomplished computer
geek. More than a few times, Josh has taken time to patiently explain
the workings of computers and such stuff to a technically challenged
instructor. That, of course, would be me.
Now it is my honor and privilege to give you my technology advisor,
and most importantly, the Glynn County Student of the Year, Joshua
The speech I gave is below:
Thank you Mr. Roy.
Hello Teachers, Guests and Fellow Graduates,
You may not know me, and I may not know you, but we all have one thing in common: we came back to finish our education and get our DIPLOMA.Speech Given by: Joshua J. Meunier on May 6, 2009
But, each of us has a different story about how we got here. I’d like to share mine with you.
I graduated from Brunswick High School with my fellow classmates of 2006. But, there was only one small detail that was keeping me from going to college and getting a better job. It was the fact that I graduated with a Special Education Diploma. The Special Education Diploma limits people with disabilities from going to college, joining the military, and getting a better job.
After I graduated, I started working for Wal-Mart in November of that year. After two years of working, I decided that I would finally get back on track with my education. Before I began school, I took the two tests that I knew would be easy for me and passed. After that, I started my orientation with the school and took my TABE tests and found out that I could pass another two tests. I took those tests and passed. Then I spent two months studying for the section that I was struggling with, math. Through rigorous studying, and long hours, I passed the practice testing. The next day, I took the final test and passed with a successful score.
I am graduating because of my hard work, struggle, and help from my teachers, family and the staff of the Adult Education Program. They have pushed and pushed to get me through this. Graduating for me is like taking a very long adventure to the moon.
My future plans after this is to attend the College of Coastal Georgia for two years and then transfer to Valdosta State where I will receive a Bachelors Degree in Teaching Special Education.
My plans will lead me to a job as a teacher in the school system teaching in the specialty that I have been trained in and have personal experience in throughout my educational career.
To receive this diploma is an honor, and presents more career choices and education choices for me. I believe that anyone that continues to try their hardest, and continues to try their best, even through errors, can achieve their goals. I wish all of you the luck, success, and reward that you deserve for your hard work. Let’s continue to make a difference and go out there and make something of ourselves. Congratulations, Class of 2009
Although I stated that I would go to college at Valdosta State, plans do tend to change. In August of 2009, I started college at the College of Coastal Georgia (CCGA). My first class was ENGL 0098, basically remedial English, with Sharon Bartkovich. I know, I know. Everybody hears the rumors. I don’t like rumors and I won’t be spreading them in this series. However, before the class started, which was scheduled for 0800, a student walked by and asked, “is this English?” We all stated yes. He asked, “with Ms. Bartkovich?” Again, we said yes. He then said “GOOD LUCK!” and walked off. Hmm. Not a good sign right. Some time later the class realized why he said that. We all knew that most of the students in her class would and will likely retake the class next semester. I did. Let’s just say I spent money to stay in a few of her classes including repeats. Let’s see. ENGL 0098 (2 times), ENGL 0099 (1 time), ENGL 1101 (2 times), JOUR 1101 (2 times [PASS BOTH TIMES]). I personally liked Ms. Bartkovich and then again I didn’t because she kinda made life in her class hell. She did ensure that all of her students knew that she had office hours and if you needed help to stop by and she would be happy to help and answer questions. I signed up for as much office hours as I could because of my disability. I was willing to take her classes because deep down I knew she cared about what her students were learning and that if she just passed her students, she’d be giving up on her students. I thank her for that even if she doesn’t know it. She may look at this and virtually slap me in the back of the head then say, “Joshua you may need to take my class again.” I just may. Ms. Bartkovich was one of two people to point me in the right direction to getting setup for my collegiate disability accommodations. She even filled out forms that showed how I performed in her class without such accommodations. Without writing accommodations and the use of electronic audio recording devices, my assignments would be late, illegible, may not arrive at all, and I wouldn’t have notes.
In 2013, I transferred to Altamaha Technical College after receiving no degrees from CCGA. The main reasoning behind the transition was that I was being required to take courses that did not line up with my major such as geology, chemistry, and a bunch of other courses. My advisor and main instructor was Mr. Willie Jones who is now Dr. Jones. He was at the Brunswick campus when I attended. I attended the college as both Altamaha and Okefenokee until it’s merger into Coastal Pines Technical College (CPTC). So, in 2013 I started attending the college under the Computer Support Specialist Associate of Applied Sciences program. Of course, Dr. Jones tried to get me to start at a lower program such as the certificate program which is quicker and I say no. I inform him that I have a method to my madness. As I did with CCGA, I use Microsoft Excel to keep up with SAP, GPA, and Degree progress. Let’s look at degree progress for a moment. CPTC has 2 IT programs with Associate of Applied Science degrees and they are Computer Support Specialist and Network Support Specialist. I gathered the list of required programs together and went through each to ensure that I took courses that would allow me to graduate with dual/double majors when I left the school. By the time I left CPTC in May of 2015, which is about 2 years of learning and earning some in less time, 2 technical certificates, 2 diplomas, and 2 Associate of Applied Science degrees. I am still receiving more technical certificates to this day on my transcript. At my graduation, I graduated with honors, National Technical Honor Society, and SkillsUSA
The lesson here is, don’t let others tell you what you can and cannot do in your career and education. I proved them wrong and even invited some of them to the graduation. My favorites actually showed to my GED graduation. If you go to college or plan to, pay particular attention to the paragraph above, don’t let the schools cheat you. By starting at the lower level programs, you have to take additional classes for the higher lever programs. This is why you always research, research, research. If Ms. Bartkovich taught me anything in her English class, do that research and make notations of where you found it or your shit out of luck. She didn’t say the shit part though. 🙂
Stay tuned for further series.