At Divine Academy, one of our main goals is to help students with special needs enter the workforce through educational, vocational, and life skills instruction. Since opening in 2005, we've seen many students earn their diplomas. Every time that we witness the journey from their first day at school to wearing their cap and gown at graduation, our hearts are filled with joy. Which is why walking into school to see one Divine Academy employee makes every day a blessing.
The young man in this photo with the light blue shirt, glasses and a cheerful smile on his face is Steven. He first enrolled at Divine Academy in 2006 when he was just 12 years old. When asked what he remembered about his first year of school, Steven replied, "Ms. Davis and Mrs. Garcia were my teachers. I learned reading, math, language arts, spelling, and science." He has many fond memories of his first year at Divine Academy but, as in most cases with children who have autism, adjusting to school was difficult for Steven. "When Steven first enrolled, he was extremely sensitive. He had a difficult time accepting mistakes, and would cry at a drop of a hat" said co-founder of Divine Academy, Ingrid Garcia. Although Steven had many hurdles, he worked hard everyday to improve.
Steven made many memories during his time at school. When asked about his favorite memories Divine Academy, he answered, "We had a lot of fun field trips, and Mrs. Davis would drive us in a red Ford Club Wagon van. My favorite memory is going to the Everglades in 2007." As Steven continued to work toward his goal of graduating, he showed his potential to grow. Mrs. Garcia was asked about how Steven had changed over the years and she said, "He learned that making mistakes is okay and that there is always tomorrow to make it better. He had learned to accept criticism, and not to cry when things weren't going his way." Steven's hard work finally paid off in 2016 when he received his high school diploma, but his accomplishments didn't stop there.
When Steven heard that Divine Academy had a new job opening, he took the opportunity to apply for the position. He went through the entire interview process and ultimately earned the job. "I work at Divine Academy as a receptionist. I also organize things, check to see if there is printing/copying to be done, and I help to take out the garbage, vacuum, answer phones, and get the mail." said Steven when asked about the responsibilities of his new job.
For founders, Ms. Davis and Mrs. Garcia, to be there for Steven for his entire journey from student to employee puts into perspective what they're doing for the autism community. "To have Steven as an employee is extremely rewarding. To see how much he has grown in every aspect of his development makes us feel so proud of him. To see him interact with others, answer calls, take messages and comprehend is an amazing feeling. It tells us we have fulfilled our promise to help our students and their families live a more fulfilled life. We can not express in words what accomplishing this means to us." said Mrs. Garcia. If you have a child with autism, we hope that Steven's story can provide you with inspiration and hope that they can not only be successful, but also exceed their expectations.
For information about enrolling your child at Divine Academy, call us at (954) 499-4638.