Our May Student Spotlight: Meet Kennedy

May 26, 2020

Meet Kennedy Muller a fifth-grade student at New Way Academy in Phoenix, AZ. She was diagnosed with triple deficit dyslexia and a specific learning disability in reading in 2018. The family had been supplementing her schooling with tutoring and advocating for years with the public schools, but nothing was helping. When Kennedy was officially diagnosed, she had started her first day of 4th grade at her public school. Within a week the family had done research, interviewed and were able to get Kennedy into New Way Academy because they happened to have an opening in the 4th grade. The family wasn’t prepared for the cost of private school and were not aware of the Disabled/Displaced scholarship until they were scrambling to make this move. The scholarship funds from the Arizona Leadership Foundation helped make this decision to move her easier financially on the family. Kennedy is now in her second year at New Way Academy and thriving.

Kennedy is in much smaller classroom sizes which allows her more individualized attention. She is also now in the Wilson Reading program which is essential for her to learn to read due to her dyslexia. New Way Academy has given Kennedy the tools to succeed in school by giving her the confidence to believe she can read and that she is smart.

Kennedy’s favorite subject in school is Technology. She has been on the dance squad at school and performed in the last two school plays. Outside of school she plays soccer and loves to dance and sing with her friends.

She wants to attend ASU like her mom and be either a teacher or a make-up artist when she grows up.

In honor of  May being Teacher Appreciation Month, our May Student Spotlight about Kennedy from New Way Academy features a letter from her Teacher, Mckenzie Telford.  We at the Arizona Leadership would like to let  all the teachers and school administrators we work with know we appreciate
you now and always.

Thank you again for all you do for education in Arizona.

Kennedy’s Teacher, Mckenzie Telford at New Way Academy had this to say about Kennedy:

Kennedy Muller, where to begin! Kennedy has grown a tremendous amount attending New Way. While I could sit here and write a book about that kind-hearted, fun-spirited, hard-working little munchkin, I will try to keep it short and sweet, while still getting the message across for how much she deserves to be highlighted, every day.

Since attending New Way, Kennedy has shown great academic growth. The most amazing part about this is that she is able to grasp how much she is truly learning. When I sat down to write this, I felt Kennedy should be included in this discussion about what her strengths and weaknesses were when coming to New Way. As she put it, she was “memorizing words and kind of knew her ABC’s.” She explained how hard it was to try so hard but not be able to understand her B’s from her D’s. She explained to me that now at New Way, she not only knows her alphabet (or knows the letters on the keyboard as she says) but she can read and write. She explained how much she values the assistive technology used at New Way, such as speech to text and read and write. She told me about how the words on her computer all come in as different colors to help her sound out words. Not only is Kennedy confident enough to read out loud in front of the class, but I no longer receive notes that say I am the “dest.”

I believe the biggest value to Kennedy’s learning is her connections to her teachers at New Way. Kennedy values that relationship more than most students, and develops deep connections needed for her learning. Her small class sizes allow her to feel comfortable asking questions and making mistakes. The Kagan structure style of learning allows Kennedy to discuss her answers with other students and collaborate during work. Kennedy is a social butterfly which causes her to thrive in small classes, where it could hinder her learning in other environments. She is able to express herself and be proud of who she is. Kennedy has participated in Spirit Squad since she first came to New Way. This year, she also played a role in the school play, Peter Pan. She continues to try new things and attends many different school lunch clubs.

I truly cannot say enough great things about this sweet girl. She is one of the hardest working students I know and is in the best educational setting for her strengths and needs. Being her teacher and watching her growth this year is truly one of the greatest things I have been able to do. From every teacher at New Way, we thank you for giving her the opportunity to be in our classrooms.

About New Way Academy:
New Way Academy was established in 1968 to serve students in the Valley with learning differences, namely dyslexia, ADHD, and executive functioning challenges. With a 7:1 student-teacher ratio, New Way students receive an individualized curriculum planned around specific educational needs and based on thorough academic, psycho-educational, speech, language and motor skills assessments. As such, students receive on-site speech, writing, and occupational therapy as needed, conducted throughout their school day by accredited specialists. New Way offers a full athletic program, clubs, arts, and electives to keep students engaged, enriched, and empowered to learn and thrive upon graduation as young adults.