The other day I had a collision with mack truck. Not the type with wheels and a steel chassais, but one no less visually unmistakable and powerful… and it drove straight into my heart. That mack truck was the emotive story of Trevor Pawlak of San Ramon California. Currently a student in “K12 – CAVA (California Virtual Academy), the same California curriculum based “homeschool” K-12 / CAVA, that my son Andrew attends, Trevor and my son have just finished fourth grade. Along with my son’s report card this week came an urgency, from his teachers, to read the last newsletter of the year for CAVA students. Upon opening the newsletter on my computer, Andrew and I read the typical sentiment from teachers wishing students a wonderful summer, lists of books suitable for fifth grade reading over the summer and suggestions on being safe and still having alot of fun over the next three months. There was something more, one last student spotlight. This spotlight was on Trevor Pawlack. The story of a speechless boy.
The newsletter’s story is written in first-person-narrative and it would be a shame for me to re-tell it in my own way. Therefore I have simply printed it in full text here.
This is what his teacher, Diana Davis (CAVA teacher, San Mateo and Sonoma, CA) wrote:
Dear CAVA Families,
As the school year comes to an end, we as teachers begin to reflect on how we have made a positive impact on our students and how we can better ourselves for the following year. This year, however, I do not find myself wondering how I have positively affected any one student, but rather how one of my students has had an impact on me. His name is Tervor Pawlak and he joined the CAVA family this year. Trevor is a miraculous ten year old boy who has autism, but does not allow himself to be defined as autistic. Instead he lives with autism and has shown me a thing or two about life and how each day we must treasure the big and little moments, for each one is a blessing in itself. One important fact to know about Trevor is that he is not able to speak. Don’t let this upset you, for he has brokern the barriers and has found his voice through art and poetry. When I first met Trevor I was so overjoyed. I thought to myself, “Yes! Here is a student that is literally begging to learn.” Picture a room filled with CAVA boxes*, you know what I am talking about, and Trevor practically salivating because in each of those CAVA boxes was the knowlede he had been waiting for his whole life. As I rip open each box, he is frantically typing to his mother, “When can I start learning? I want to do History!” He was moving around so much out of excitement that I swore he was going to fall off his chair. The “coolness” of having a teacher in his home had vanished, for all he wanted was to crack open a CAVA textbook. Even while I am sharing this memory with you, I smile. I simply could not get through the boxes fast enough. Did I mention that he is hilarious as well as wonderfully sarcastic? A real jokester. Thanks to his family, his therapist, K12 and the CAVA staff, I am very proud to say that Trevor is thriving and absoloutely loves the CAVA program. He has no boundaries with CAVA and is able to thrive in an environment that is nurturing and self paced. .His story is truly one of success and will inspire for many years to come. Now that I have come full circle with my story about Trevor, you may be wondering, “why share?” The answer is simple: because there comes a time in every teacher’s life when you have a moment of clarity. This moment was so great for me that I not only remember the reason why I became a teacher, but I remember the reason why I became a wife, a mohter, a friend, and hopefully a mentor. Each and every one of my students are special and have taught me many life lessons, however, Trevor’s unique style of communication and learning speak volumes to me and has given me that continued strength to become a better person. His voice can be heard through the heart and I feel so blessed to share this wonderful and inspirational journey with him. Trevor’s work has recently been on exhibit at the San Ramon Valley Library and the San Ramon Express wrote a wonderful story about him and his accomplishments. I wish to share is his biography.
‘My name is Trevor Pawlak and I am ten years old. I was diagnosed with autism when I was 4 years old I remember knowing that other kids could talk and I couldn’t which frustrated me to no end. This past year I met my angel in purple, Janna Woods. She helped me find my freedom thorough typing. Now I can find my freedom through typing. Now I can show others how intelligent I am. My poetries come from my soul. The deepest part of my mind. I know I am an instrument of God. He expects me to lead the way for others who are silent like me. The road may be long and full of pitfalls but life is a journey to be taken one step at a time. I hope my poetries lighten your path on your journey.
Because of his silence, it was assumed by other schools that Trevor was not able to learn nor communicate any thought, academic or ther. Clearly this is not the case, for Trevor is very bright and proven through the most beautiful methods that he has alot to say. I leave you with one of the many poems that Trevor has written and hope that his story has touched your heart as he continues and will always touch mine.
– Diana Davis
Army of Love beats Silence
The winter chill fills the air crisp breaths seen outside
The days grow shorter as darkness creeps in.
The time for going inside lies the seeds for spring’s newness lay dormant.
I plan my escape from darkness each day with new resolve.
I live for my intellectual learning now.
Beating back the darkness of silence is my daily battle.
The army of loving hands lift me up
Together we fight this war and victory is certain.