Student Stories



Most of Kim’s childhood was clouded by severe depression caused by physical and psychological abuse she suffered as a young girl. In elementary school, she was barely passing with Cs. People knew her as the class clown, which was her attempt to hide her scars. She was also placed in the special education program. She said, “My mom explained to me that the emotional turmoil in my life kept me from learning. It wasn’t until just before middle school that I began to share the abuse experiences with my mom and my therapist.”

In middle school, Kim appeared quiet and happy. Her grades rose to respectable Bs and she got involved in an afterschool woodworking program. According to Kim, that program was the lifeline that kept her afloat through middle school.

When she got to high school, she was plagued by anxiety attacks. Skipping school became both her norm and her escape. This was just another way her emotional problems manifested themselves. “After a semester my mom let me drop out of school. She realized how upset I was. I stayed at home in bed, crying and sleeping all the time,” she recalled. Kim’s mom tried home schooling, but that was a disaster. Kim was basically at home struggling to teach herself while her mom was at work.

Kim’s psychiatrist finally suggested she look into Austin Can Academy. “To be honest, my mom didn’t want me to come here because so many of the kids are from rough backgrounds. It scared my mom but it didn’t scare me,” she admitted. Austin Can Academy was the only charter school that would accept Kim. The others had a waiting list or she didn’t fit the criteria. Kim’s mom finally agreed to let her try Austin Can Academy. With excitement in her voice, she said, “The minute I walked in the building I had this feeling I was going to excel here.” Kim ended up loving it and her mom confesses it was the best thing ever.

“The teachers and the students here are so special. The teachers go above and beyond. They provide a motivating and inspiring education. They teach you life lessons and how to be a better person,” Kim said. She told me she’s also learned to have an open mind and to take advantage of every opportunity that’s given to her. Austin Can Academy opens all kinds of unexpected and powerful doors for kids. Kim got involved in robotics, a gardening class, and Interact, which is a community service program. She also connected with the other students. All of the kids have been through tough times and once they start to talk about their lives, they discover how much they have in common. Many no longer feel alone.

Kim’s teachers and friends have encouraged her to pursue nursing when she graduates. Her plan is to get her CNA license and then to become a nurse. Kim loves science and anatomy. She’s also discovered how rewarding it is to help people, the same way she was helped at Austin Can Academy.


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