Kiley Heizer was a student in a traditional classroom at East Valley High School until the COVID-19 outbreak moved everyone to online learning – and it was there that she found her place to thrive.
When given the opportunity to return to in-person learning, she entered EV’s Online Learning Program – and took off.
“I work at my own pace and learn in one day what took a whole week to go through before, and I’m not bored,” she said.
The 3.9-GPA student, who will serve as class valedictorian, jumped right in with advanced placement and honors classes online, is a Running Start student through Spokane Falls Community College and will transfer to Eastern Washington University this fall to complete a degree in special education on a full-ride scholarship.
As with her current educational path, she expects to do her EWU coursework online as well, and plans for a career as a teacher of children with special needs.
She has been focused on education since she was a child. She remembers always trying to help her classmates, especially a girl with Down syndrome back in first grade. “It seemed I was the only one who could help her calm down, and I felt that maybe I had a special ability to do that.”
Heizer lives in Liberty Lake with her mother, who works helping adults overcome addiction, and her two younger siblings, ages 9 and 7, both of whom have special needs, one with autism and sensory processing disorder and the other with severe attention deficit disorder.
Since her mother works long hours, Heizer gets her brother and sister up and going in the morning, takes them to school, picks them up again, makes their dinner and does the housework. She does this gladly, she said, and is committed to their well-being and success.
Plus she has a babysitting job during the school day for two other children.
She, too, has her own issues to deal with – anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder – which she handles with self-regulation, medication, taking time for herself and sticking to a schedule. Her philosophy is to dance in the rain, just keeping on while waiting for the moment to pass.
She’ll smile when talking about how she liked to play as a child. She didn’t so much play with her toys as she organized them. Her favorite toys were Ziploc bags, which helped her “organize stuff.”
She is drawn to the organizational structure of education and how orderly it is, but most especially by how it enables her to help people. She’s not especially interested in having traditional college campus experiences or travel, though she does find time to hang out with friends, enjoy four-wheeling and collect rocks and bugs.
But mostly she’d rather be giving children a hand learning how to do something, to help them be able to do all that they can do in life.
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