When Angela Mosher graduates from the MAP High School this spring, she will be doing something it appears no one thought she would do – except herself.
“I will be the first person in the Mosher family in 50 years to earn a high school degree,” Mosher said recently. Even a grandparent said she’d never do it, that she’d wind up a drug addict like so many in her family.
Life has been difficult for the 18-year-old. She doesn’t like to talk about most of it, other than to say her home life has been chaotic, that she has been in a parental role much of her life and that there have been many traumas. She was homeless before moving in with her aunt Gerriann Armstrong last year.
“I really needed just to be a teenager,” she said. “I feel I’ve really only had a life for the last year.” She credits her aunt, who she calls awesome, with getting her to quit smoking marijuana. “It was making me stupid, but she broke down for me the steps of what to do, how to change my behavior and what I can and can’t do fitting with my personality.”
She also credits the MAP program. Things were tough for her in a regular high school, where the noise and random touching as students passed in the hall caused her great stress. A teacher at Rogers High School got her connected with MAP.
“MAP is for kids who fall through the cracks due to mental health issues that interfere with their ability to learn,” said B.J. Snyder, mental health therapist at MAP. Mosher, who acknowledges she suffers from PTSD and anxiety issues, said that on days when she’s not in a good space, there are quiet rooms at MAP where she can go to chill out, and even rooms with punching bags on which anger issues can be taken out.
“I love it there,” she said. “It runs like a regular school, but it gives students the space we need.”
When she speaks of the things she loves in life, her answer is immediate – Harrison Snyder, her 10-year-old cousin. Her smile is wide and her dimples emerge when she tells story after story about Harrison, who is diagnosed with autism.
“I love that he doesn’t have a filter,” she said. She recalled one example when the boy was asked what his birthday was. “Dec. 25,” came the answer. And what year? “Every year,” said the boy. Mosher wears her Autism Awareness in Action T-shirt proudly.
She doesn’t have a lot of hobbies or school activities. She’s working on survival and triumphing. She enjoys reading and likes her coffee and is making plans to attend Spokane Falls Community College this fall, where she plans to earn an associate degree before transferring on for an advanced degree in social work.
“I’d like to work with kids in foster care,” she said. “I’d like to help place kids in the right environment for them. I want them in places where they can thrive. That, I think, would be an accomplishment.”