"My teachers always looked out for me, so I never felt like I couldn't ask a question or get the extra support I needed. They took the time to help me with assignments or just to tell me I was doing a great job. What they never did was make me feel different because of my disability. "
Lucia Rios, Class of 1998
Holland Public gave me the support I needed to succeed
Holland Public Schools was right for me because the district gave me the support I needed all the way from preschool up through high school. It laid the foundation for my academic success, making it possible for me to be the first in my family to graduate from high school and then college.
Born with Spina Bifida, I probably had a few more challenges than most students attending school. My teachers always looked out for me, so I never felt like I couldn't ask a question or get the extra support I needed. They took the time to help or tell me I was doing a great job. What they never did was make me feel different because of my disability.
Holland was just the right size, and in many ways felt like a family. Staff really cared about me from my physical and occupational therapists to my teachers. A social worker became my mentor, continuing to meet with me weekly after she retired. She encouraged me to apply for college and took me to my orientation at Western Michigan University.
My success at Holland Public shaped who I am and gave me confidence. Now, I’m a disability advocate and activist, who educates the public about the issues people with disabilities face, whether it's physical access or biased attitudes.
At Holland Public, the campus was ready for me so I didn’t have to worry about access at all. When I got to college it was a different story, but that's where I really found my voice and learned to advocate for myself and others. I felt fortunate because the district was committed to mainstreaming students with disabilities. Holland’s approach to being inclusive to all students really plays into my work now helping people remove barriers in their lives so they can work.