By Gray Lancaster, Hill School Alum
My school experience before The Hill School was a nightmare. When I was in elementary school, I remember my mom coming to pick me up early from school every day. Those few hours I was at school, I felt defeated and would start bawling my eyes out. I was confused and frustrated. I could not comprehend what was in front of me because I could not process what was going on in my head. I switched schools to attend Cape Fear Academy, where my first-grade teacher told my parents I needed to get tested. I found out I was dyslexic. A few years passed, and as I was about to go into the fourth grade, I started to attend The Hill School.
Before my parents decided for me to attend the Hill School, I did not know anything about it until my mom told me. I remember the first time my mom mentioned The Hill School to me as if it was yesterday. My mom said to me, "Gray, there is a new school called The Hill School, and it will make school and life a lot easier for you." Without a doubt, my mom was right, and the Hill School was a perfect fit for me.
I was in the first class of students to attend The Hill School. I was very nervous and didn't know what to expect, but I was excited to go to a school that would help me. By going to the Hill School in the morning and Cape Fear Academy in the afternoon, I could apply the strategies I learned at the Hill School to my studies at Cape Fear Academy.
Being one of the first students to attend The Hill School was nerve-racking because it was something new. A major difference now, since I was there, is the growth of the school. It has expanded a lot since I left. The Hill School started at St. James Episcopal Church downtown Then The Hill school relocated to Burnt Mill business park, which I experienced for a few years. Afterward, the Hill school continued to grow and relocated to another building in the Burnt Mill business park. Years later, I am now a proud alumnus of the Hill School, and I am so honored to have been a part of the journey.
The motto of the Hill School is to develop confident, independent learners, and I feel like that is what it did for me. I am thankful for the remediation I received from the Hill School. It's like putting glasses on your brain because if you can't see well, wearing glasses helps make your vision clearer. The Hill School teaches your brain how to learn, using methods that work for the way each individual processes information. Throughout this time, I gained a strong work ethic. Even though my schoolwork takes me a long time to do, I continue to use the methods that work best for me. This helps me to persevere, and I fully apply myself to any task, no matter how difficult it may be. This process was not easy, and I had many obstacles along the way. I know I have to work twice as hard as other people in my class that don't have a learning disability. There were times when I couldn't find the strength within myself. In those moments, I counted on my family and their support. The Hill School customized my learning process in a way that made sense to me. The Hill School embraced my learning style, adapted my study style, and made me the person I am today.
Currently, I am a sophomore at Queens University in Charlotte NC. I am a nursing major and will be applying to nursing school this coming spring semester. After I graduate college, my goal would be to take the next steps to become a CRNA (Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist). That is at least my goal for now.
My advice for students would be to believe in themselves and remind themselves that they can do whatever they set their minds to. Don't be afraid to ask questions. I know I was at first, but it's important to ask questions to better understand whatever you are doing. Now, I always ask questions if I am unclear about something in my classes. It's important to surround yourself with people who encourage you and lift you. This helped me. I love the quote by Walt Disney which reads, "It's kind of fun to do the impossible." I do what others think is not possible for me, and I have achieved a lot through hard work and determination. I have not let the thoughts of others undermine my abilities and I hope other students will do the same.
The loving support and close-knit community helped me develop skills and strategies that I will forever be grateful for. I am no longer intimidated by anything that is a challenge; instead, I say bring it on.