I’ve been enrolled as a student at Cookson Hills twice. The first time I was here, I was 13 years old. I came because I had been refusing to do my schoolwork; I was lying, manipulating and stealing from my parents. The second time I came to Cookson Hills was more complicated. In the long run, my family situation wasn’t great. At first, I did well being back home, but as my family slipped back into their old routine, I began the slow descent into mine. In March, I was sent to a different group home, but soon got kicked out, and in June of 2017, I was placed back at Cookson Hills.
Since coming back, I have played volleyball, gone on trips with my house family, and increased my efforts in school. I think some of my favorite moments have been while playing volleyball. Our coaches are the best! For one, they know what they are doing, and they have patience to work on the same skills over and over until we get it. They also are fun! So many of our practices have been filled with laughter and jokes.
Overall, Cookson Hills has helped me, and still is as I complete my senior year. Recently, I found out my dad no longer wants to be a part of my life, and while it hurts a lot, it would hurt a lot more if I didn’t have the houseparents and adults in my life that I do. Mr. Tinkler is a great role model. He is hard working, kind, loving and no matter what I do, he’s always there for me. Same goes for Mrs. Tinkler. She has showed me that I don’t need anyone but God in my life. Other adults that I greatly appreciate are my social worker, all the other houseparents, my teachers, our librarian, and our principal. All of these adults have helped shape me into who I’ve become.
My teachers are amazing. At school we have small class sizes, which means I don’t worry as much about asking stupid questions because there are less people to embarrass myself in front of. What I really love about our school is the closeness. The teachers genuinely care about me. Not only for academic purposes, but they also care about what’s going on in my life. There have been many times when I’ve talked to my teachers about something that’s bothering me, or times when teachers have prayed for me. I’ve opened up to them about my family and about how my visits with them can be hard. Our teachers don’t just educate us, they teach us about life. They give us advice that they’ve gathered over the years and help us through our problems. They let us work at our own pace, so they know we’re actually retaining the information and not just glazing over it.
Another influential adult in my life is my counselor. In the beginning, my views of counseling were dismal. I hated that I had to take an hour out of my day to tell someone about my life, because I didn’t think it really mattered to them. My counselor makes it very clear that my well-being is important to him. He notices when I act differently in counseling, and with him I find it easy to open up about anything, including my broken relationship with my dad. He has given me a lot of advice on how to handle situations with my family, how to deal with stress in school, and how to go about planning my future.
Because of Cookson Hills, I have worked hard on my grades, worked hard to earn trust and build relationships, and I have also decided to go to college. Counseling has helped me realize that I want to help people in the same way I have been helped. I plan on attending college in the fall of 2019, getting an undergraduate degree in social work, and a masters in counseling.
If someone had asked me, before I came back to Cookson Hills, what my plans were for life after graduation, I would have blankly stared back at them. If it wasn’t for Cookson Hills, I wouldn’t have the plans I do now, or the motivation, or even the ability to form healthy relationships with people. Because of Cookson Hills, I now have a direction for my life, and a great sense of hope that I have the ability to achieve my goals.