In the summer of 2006, Kori Dawson stopped by the school to talk to Ms. Candi. He was living with his sister, “No ma, no pa.” He wanted to know about the school and what we did here. As she looked back at that moment, Ms Candi described him as a young man with absolutely no self-esteem. He had been “put out of” St Joseph primary school in 2005. Before he walked out the door, they had made it known to him that they considered him “not capable of learning.”
During the conversation Ms Candi took a risk and asked him what his one dream was. He was hesitant but finally said that his big dream was to become a pilot. Then it was Kori’s turn to take a risk. He signed up for our school. Usually we require a parent or guardian signature, but this was a special case. This 14 year old boy signed himself up.
Kori in his uniform shirt–back when.
In those first days, he did not seem capable of doing anything academic, but he worked very hard and within a month or so he was average for our students. At that point Ms Candi was convinced that this young man really had potential. He stayed after school for extra help and she would catch him reading during the ‘down times’ of the day. He was not afraid to ask for help and by the end of the year he was our top student.
The students who attended career day that year. Kori is middle row, center.
Mr. Tench, our current school board president, who has been actively involved in the school forever, saw potential and sponsored him to compete in World Water Day, a high school competition that has two competitive categories: essay and poster. He decided to compete in both. At the end of the competition he placed 3rd among many high school students.
Placing 3rd at World Water Day
He applied to Edward P York High School. Of course the grades from his previous school were awful and he was placed on a waiting list. But he was also granted an interview and Ms Candi went with him. She was able show his improvement over the year at our school and he was accepted without probation.
During the following year, he continued to return for help from Ms Candi, “every Friday like clockwork.”
Over the summer between his year with us and his start at Edward P York, he enrolled in a program through the US army—pilot’s ground school. He was 15 years old.
In 2009 he began to participate in a program sponsored by a non-profit called the Belize Family Life Association where they work with young people through the medium of television. They have a program on Saturday afternoon from 1-3 described as being, “for youth, by youth, informing youth.” Kori began working with them and was soon an interviewer. Shortly after he started, he invited Ms Candi on the show to tell about Friends School.
He still works at the station. Over the years he has continued to take flying lessons. (He has not completed his pilot’s license because he cannot afford the money it takes for flying time.)
In his pilots uniform at the high school prom.
When Kori was at Edward P York, he never gave up. He was at or near the top of his class each year. In June 2011 he completed high school as the salutatorian of his class.
High School Graduation
Kori earned a scholarship to 5th form, equivalent to college Freshman in the US, in the junior college at St Johns.
Why am I writing this story now? Because at the end of last semester Ms Candi got notice that he had earned his associates degree in science. She was so excited she almost cried.
Epilogue: Kori is continuing his studies with the goal of earning his Bachelor’s Degree.