School for Miles

This is my son Miles. He's awesome. 
He is a funny, compassionate, smart, sensitive, kind-hearted 14 year old kid about to start 9th grade in two weeks.  Miles faces challenges that require a special school enviornment in order to thrive, and amazingly, we have found that school. I'm seeking your help now to make attendance at this year a reality for Miles.

Our friend friend Venetia  perfectly summarizes Miles' plight, which I hope will resonate with you and inspire your support: "I love Miles! He obviously is just super smart and the regular system doesn't work for him and that's okay. We all know what it's like to be super sensitive in rigid systems. It sucks. Him cultivating his emotional and intuitive side will be his gift. May this opportunity expand on that for him and teach him that his unique need for environments is because of that unique soul of his. He can do anything he puts his mind to."
That's it exactly. Miles has been diagnosed with acute Generalized Anxiety Disorder since he was four years old. He's had therapists, teachers, meditation, homeschooling, and briefly even medication over the years, but this disorder is a beast: a constant, tortured companion of depression, stress, self-doubt, fear, perfectionism, procrastination, shyness, and worry.

Despite these challenges, in grade school Miles maintained a straight A average, and in 5th grade tested above high school level at Reading and English, and above grade level in Math.  Unfortunately, the transition to a much larger intermediate school for 6th grade quickly unspooled Miles' achievements. He was overstimulated by the large crowds and classes, missed school due to fears of crowds and ridicule, and feared the reactions teachers, classmates and other administration might have to his absences. His grades tanked. He was nervous and twitchy and hardly ever smiled anymore. He had frequent stomach aches, and startled at the smallest sounds. He missed more than 18 days of school in one semester. It was glaringly obvious that the broad public school setting wasn’t good for him.

We pulled him out of seventh grade halfway through the year and I homeschooled him, in addition to running my own business from home, supporting myself and my two kids. Miles finished the year with straight A’s, but was not challenged by the grade-level curriculum, and was completely isolated. He needed something better. 

Tilden Academy is a private school right here in our town. They provide one-on-one instruction at a student’s pace, to subject mastery. There are small group classes, field trips, and study halls offering relaxed low-key socialization. The combination of diminished stimulation, challenging curriculum, and work at individual pace all help to lower Miles' anxiety levels and increase his focus. I couldn’t afford a full enrollment tuition, so he attended eighth grade part time last year, studying Algebra, Science, Art, and Japanese at Tilden and taking History and (9th grade level) Language Arts with me at home. Wow. He completed two full years of Japanese study in less than one school year. He finished Science 3 months early. He graduated with a 4.0, and a genuine smile on his face. He made friends, got a haircut, opened up. On the drive home from his graduation ceremony, he told me, “Tilden is the first time I’ve felt happy at school since second grade.”
Nowadays Miles is self-taught on FL Studio, composing and producing electronic music like this:
He plays drums, and is teaching himself music theory - ya gotta love the internet - a subject he hopes to study further at Tilden in addition to continuing his passionate relationship with the Japanese lanuage. He wants to code, plays Overwatch like a boss, enjoys swimming, and loves to make art of all kinds.
Most importantly, he is a truly sensitive, kind-hearted, compassionate, empathetic human being.
My financial reality is this: I spent everything I had to get him through last year. I lost a lot of work hours to homeschooling Miles. My income took a hit, and I had the added expense of his school. I drained accounts, I cancelled the cable, I sold possessions. 
The GoFundMe slogan says “It’s hard to ask for money” and boy, is that true. 
But for my child? I'll do whatever it takes. 

Meeting our goal of 15,000 dollars would ensure Miles can attend Tilden for 9th grade. We need a good chunk of it ASAP to pay off the deposit required for enrollment; the rest would be applied to monthly tuition installments. If we have the good fortune to exceed this goal, any additional funds will be set aside for Miles’ future educational needs.


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Rebecca Waggoner 
Walnut Creek, CA
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