Bay High student honored for triumph over adversity, defying all expectations
By Cassandra Favre
Feb 11, 2014, 20:19
Bay High Transitional Teacher Beth Favre and senior Haley LeBouef.
Bay High School senior Haley LeBouef proves that with a little hard work, determination and the unfailing support of dedicated teachers, difficulties can be overcome and dreams attained.
Determined from Birth
Haley was born prematurely at 27 weeks, weighing in at about two-and-a-half pounds.
"She spent several months in the NICU," Bay-Waveland's Transition Coordinator Beth Favre said. "Her challenges really did begin at birth, overcoming that is amazing in itself.
"Being that tiny, there is a bigger risk of learning and physical disabilities.
A Fork in the Road
Upon Haley's completion of middle school, Favre met with Haley's parents to discuss having Haley taking occupational courses and her plan for high school.
"Her mother was very concerned," Favre said. "She told us that her daughter was insistent on taking the regular courses.
"Our concern, at the time, was that Haley couldn't keep up the pace regarding school work and the pressure of it all.
"When we made her schedule, we decided to shoot for the highest."
Favre said Haley was a shy, quiet girl and hesitant to ask for help before entering high school.
"When I talked to her high school teachers, they described a girl who answered and asked questions," Favre said. "Everyone was amazed at her full participation and showing what she can do."
According to Favre, Haley earned credits in ninth grade and passed her first state test the first time.
"It was the best move for me to be in regular classes," Haley said.
Haley passed all her state tests the first time she took them and will graduate in the top third of her graduating class.
Praise from a Devoted Teacher
Amy Richardson teaches English at the high school and taught Haley in the ninth and tenth grades.
"She has made lots of strides," Richardson said. "In ninth grade, she was still sensitive and rarely asked for help, but she has matured and grownup and knows how to ask to for help."
Favre said that help for Haley is available in the form of the school's inclusion coaches.
"There are coaches for every core subject," Favre said. " She learned who could support and help her.
"It's an accommodation, not a modification."
Richardson said that Haley kept up with her studies in ninth grade without major support.
"One of our biggest concerns that year was if she was ready for her first state English test," Richardson said.
"We pulled her from it that first year and she took it the next year and passed it. She just needed a little extra time.
"We are very proud of her."
Haley said her favorite subjects are graphic design and math and she is also an avid participant in the school's ROTC program.
Haley's grandmother Trudy Maynard said Tuesday she is very proud of her granddaughter.
"Coming from where she came from," Maynard said. "she has just changed completely.
"I'm so ready for her to take this next step in her life, it's time for her to move on up."
On Thursday, the Mississippi Council for Exception Children honored Haley with the "Yes I Can" award.
"It felt really good to receive this award," Haley said.
"This council is for special education teachers throughout the state," Favre said. "Guest speakers from throughout the state and the Department of Special Education spoke of ways to help our special-needs students."
Favre said Haley found out about the award the day before the event.
"It was quite a surprise," Favre said.
A Proud School District
Bay-Waveland Superintendent Dr. Rebecca Ladner recognized Haley's accomplishments at Monday's school board meeting.
Ladner told Haley that the district is proud of her and her accomplishments.
"We know that these accomplishments you have made are not easy," Ladner said. "Passing those four subject area tests are not easy. There were over 6,000 students in the state of Mississippi that did not pass them last year and didn't graduate.
"Haley has really overcome some struggles that I believe started in middle school and with the help of her transition teacher Mrs. Beth Favre was put on a regular diploma track not occupational, she truly has done a great job."
School board president Dr. Sherry Ponder praised the dedication of Haley's teachers.
"What I'm most proud of with this district,"Ponder said, " is that the expectations are not set for the students, there is no ceiling. We expect you to do your best and that's what the teachers did for Haley.
"When she came to us, she was going to receive a certificate of completion, and she is graduating in the top third of her class with a regular diploma."
"I can't tell you how proud we are of this school district," Ponder said.
Haley's Bright Future
Haley plans to attend the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in Perkinston after graduation.
"I want to study graphic design," Haley said. "It's one of my favorite subjects."
"MGCCC has a two-year digital media vocational program," Favre said. "They do have counselors there that will provide support for her as needed."
"Haley is good with computers," Richardson said. "I really think she can make this transition to college."
Favre said that Haley is working with transition counselors to ease the transition from home to college.
"She hasn't spent much time away from home," Favre said. "We are working to make this a gradual transition."
In preparation for her future in digital media, Haley made animations, videos, posters and artwork, all which will be used for her portfolio.
"We never lowered our expectations for Haley," Richardson said.
"We gave her the same work with the same time constraints," Favre said. "It's not often that we see students that start lower end higher. We are very proud of her and she showed that she can do it."