Fernie is a grade 9 student at Cathedral who was formerly a part of our LAF Afterschool Program. He is a silly, smiling ball of energy despite the hardships that he and his family have faced. He is an Ethiopian immigrant from a single parent family. His mother tries her best to provide for her 3 children but worries constantly about the trouble the may get into especially living in the city housing surveys.

Fernie was always a handful but once he got into secondary school he struggled with his grades and fell in with the “wrong crowd”. He struggled so much so that by October he was at risk of being expelled. His mother was desperate for help and turned to our LEAD Coordinator Tom Wittreich for support in aiding Fernie. Tom made sure to go to bat for this boy and this family, who we have known for 4 years. Knowing that expulsion from school was not the answer Tom was able to speak on Fernie’s behalf at his hearing.

As a result, Fernie committed to attending the LEAD Program regularly and accessing the extra homework support . He has not missed a day since. Fernie has turned things around and has started making positive choices.  From October to December he worked hard on booklets in order to catch up in his studies and was able to pass all his first semester classes. Fernie continues to work hard now in high school and is currently working on his resume and practicing his interview skills in order to look for part-time employment in the summer.

One evening this spring he came to LEAD and with pride in his eyes and shared with the LEAD group that he had just received an 86% on his Geography test. When asked by the LEAD coordinators why he was working so hard and why he wanted to change he said, “Because you guys believed in me. I can do better. I’m proving it.”