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Odessa student: Overcomes challenges and helps others

ODESSA-MONTOUR—For three years, student Ashton Furney was placed in BOCES’ special education program.
Now as a freshman at Odessa-Montour, he no longer needs the assistance. Furney even helps middle school students at the BASE (Boosting After School Experiences) Camp program. Roni Lewis, director of special programs, explained it is a misnomer that a student can never leave the special education program.
Furney said as a sixth grader he was a troublemaker. He was sent to the Elmira school for an out-of-district classroom through GST BOCES special education program. He explained by the seventh grade, “I decided to get myself out.” Lewis said in addition to having trouble in several subjects, Furney also had a hard time handling his emotions.
While he was still attending school in Elmira, Lewis said he started getting after school help back at Odessa-Montour. She explained the Spanish teacher was in charge of the program, so Furney was able to get help in that subject. She said he started going two times a week, but went on to attend almost every day.
“He committed himself,” said Lewis.
Furney said looking back on his time at Elmira, he knows now the teachers were trying to help him. He explained he definitely received help through special education early enough for it to be helpful.
In eighth grade, Furney did return to Odessa-Montour for his final year enrolled in special education. Lewis said Furney “draws a hard bargain.” Furney had wanted to go straight back into the general education curriculum. However, Lewis explained he needed to transition in first. She said they were able to agree on participating in a math program. Then, for his freshman year Lewis said he passed his annual review, which all student take, and Furney no longer needed special education services.
In addition to participating in the after school program, Furney is also on the wrestling team. While it didn’t happen this year, he wants to start a debate team. Furney said after high school graduation he would like study criminal prosecution.
“I really think the special education program is a good thing,” said Furney. “It helped me(...) It helped get me here.”
Lewis said the program can be successful due to the partnerships the schools have with BOCES. She explained it is essential to the special education program. Furney presented his story to the Odessa-Montour school board in January. Lewis said there were a number of Furney’s former Hanlon teachers present who were impressed with how far he has come.







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