Shadle Park counselor Kitty Hennessey can’t help but get emotional when she talks about Ana Hendry.
After all, this student beat the odds. Overcoming homelessness, working full-time to support herself, excelling in college classes through Running Start and maintaining a 3.95 weighted GPA.
“Ana’s story speaks to her resilience and to the network of support a school can provide,” Hennessey said. “You wouldn’t know she was struggling as much when she came to us in the ninth grade.”
Hendry is blunt.
“I got kicked out of my home at the start of my sophomore year. I lived on the streets for a month or two until I found a place to live.”
She may have had a roof over her head, but it wasn’t ideal.
“It wasn’t a good place to be,” said Hendry. “It was in the Valley. I had to catch the bus at 5 a.m. to get to school at Shadle.”
Even so, she missed very little school.
“But it was really hard to think about my future,” she said. “Things have always been hard in my life. It gets exhausting trying to survive and do it on my own.”
She began to notice her situation was very different from how other kids were growing up.
“I wasn’t raised in a cookie cutter home with nurturing parents,” Hendry said.
Shadle became her safety net.
“We got her set up with services and support and let her know no one was judging her,” Hennessey said. “I want to give a shoutout to every teacher at Shadle, because they were able to meet Ana where she was and help her become her best self.”
“My teachers were really nice to me, and they understood what was going on,” Hendry said.
Part of that support came through Tracie Fowler who worked for Spokane Public School’s HEART (Homeless Education and Resource Team) program at Shadle at the time. She was able to help Hendry get STA bus passes, and after she left Shadle, she kept in touch with Hendry.
When Fowler found out she’d moved in with a different friend and was struggling, she and her husband talked it over and decided to let Hendry move in with them.
“It just seemed she was at a critical juncture,” Fowler recalled.
“I wasn’t doing well,” she said. “I moved in with Tracie my junior year. Living there helped me make better choices.”
And when COVID-19 hit, Hendry had a safe place to live and study.
When her senior year arrived, she decided to get an apartment with some friends from work and do Running Start.
Classes at SFCC gave her a glimpse of a wider world.
“I love science. I’d like to study environmental or earth science,” Hendry said.
She’s also trying to save money to buy a car and get her driver’s license.
Fowler and Hennessey have no doubt this student will succeed at whatever she puts her mind to.
“Ana has so much potential,” Fowler said. “She’s incredibly smart and hardworking, and committed to her own personal growth.”
“She just puts her head down and does what she needs to do,” she said. “She’s insightful and wise. I hope she sees herself as beautiful, smart and worthy of good things. She is so deserving.”
Cindy Hval can be reached at email@example.com
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