Making Awards and Recognition Awards Ceremonies More Inclusive, by Eileen

By March 2, 2020 NVLD Bloggers

While inclusion is normal in the classroom for students with an Non-Verbal Learning Disability, inclusion is rare when it comes to special recognition and awards ceremonies. Since NVLD students struggle in multiple areas they tend to be left out of special recognition ceremonies. I feel teachers and coaches push students to work hard daily so there should be more recognition for the hardest workers and not just the high achievers.

When I received the Coach’s award for Cross-country for the first time I was just overwhelmed with joy. My coach Jim Adams’s remarkable words recognizing my strong work ethic sent me the message that your best athlete or student isn’t always the most talented but sometimes it’s the hardest worker.

Through this experience I better understood how important it is to work hard. As a result I also received a Coach’s award for my spring track season. My coach Penny Sharrow’s words truly echoed everything that my cross-country coach, Jim Adams said in my fall season which was very touching. What was most special to me was the crowd’s reaction as I could see my story had made a strong impression. My first thought was that I hope my success can inspire others with a disability to join a team next year which regretfully it didn’t.

Photo courtesy of Eileen

One of my lasting memories for recognition was my senior day for both Cross-Country and Track. One of the reasons for this was that it hit none of my awards were academic related. I was listening to my coaches be so complementary about me and I thought I work just as hard in the classroom. It especially hit me when my cross-country coach told me he couldn’t have asked for a better person to end his career with. I was touched though I wish my hard work was equally valued in the classroom. However I was so proud I meant that much to my coach as often I was overlooked.

In addition to sports I also was a member of Key Club and received a few special awards which like my athletics were very special to me. Since they also boosted my self-esteem and truly made me feel like I belonged. Sadly I looked around and noticed most people in this club are at least average students and I was the only disabled student here. I thought to myself it shouldn’t be this way.

As you can see my coaches and advisors recognized hard work and effort but unfortunately no where in my academic career was I recognized even though I like many other NVLD students spend hours above and beyond the average student just to earn an average grade. It is this effort, that I would like to see more schools recognize. Keep in mind even the smallest honor can make a difference in a person’s life, especially for a student with NVLD. I believe this kind of change would lead to even more student participation in and out of the classroom.


I will always cherish my Cross-Country Award as it was the first time my outstanding effort was honored.

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