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Yshamar’s Story

Yshamar Gestine, a 2017 graduate of New Visions Charter High School for Advanced Math and Science III, received AFC’s Education Champion Award at our 2016 Spring Benefit in recognition of his hard work and perseverance to receive an appropriate education.

Yshamar came to New York City from Haiti during 4th grade, unable to identify letters or read words in any language. His mother asked his school repeatedly for help. Eventually, Yshamar was placed in a special education class, where he made little progress but was promoted each year because he worked hard and behaved well.

For 9th grade, Yshamar landed at New Visions knowing only a handful of letters. Yshamar’s special education teacher saw his potential and included him in her remedial reading class three days a week. Using the Wilson Reading System, Yshamar started making progress, but his teachers recognized that he would need a lot more Wilson to make up for lost time and earn a diploma. Because he was so far behind his peers, the Department of Education (DOE) decided instead that Yshamar should be moved to a less challenging school that was not appropriate for his needs and goals.

A service provider at the non-profit agency CAMBA introduced Yshamar and his mom to Advocates for Children, where their lawyer built a strong case that he should remain at his school and receive the additional support his teachers had recommended. As the result of AFC’s intervention, Yshamar was allowed to remain at his school, double his Wilson instruction, and receive an iPad to facilitate independent reading and writing. AFC also won Yshamar one-on-one tutoring during the summer.

Yshamar has never given up, and the results of his efforts have been amazing. He has made enormous strides in reading and writing, graduated with a Regents diploma in June 2017, and is headed to community college!