Hello, I am 2016 Marcia A. Spitz award winner Emilio Esteban Gorog. The Laurel School supported me in many ways throughout my nine years there, for which I am very grateful. Let me tell you a little bit about myself. I was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder at age four. Socially, I did not know how to interact because I was unable to express myself. My brain works much faster than most people, so facing too much stimuli at one time inhibited me from learning like most “normal” children. I didn't utter a complete sentence until I was close to four years old, but I taught myself to read by age three. My mother decided to enroll me into The Laurel School, a decision for which I am very thankful.

The Laurel School welcomed me with open arms and my curiosity and love for learning was fostered and nurtured during my first years in elementary school. The teachers were trained to teach to my learning difference, which resulted in learning more fully and helping me progress. Additionally, because the teachers care, I had a more positive attitude towards learning and school in general and interpersonal skills were developed because I felt a sense of belonging. As I got into middle school, there were higher expectations, and because of the skills that I learned in elementary school, I was able to meet new challenges head-on and perform well on tests, quizzes, and midterm and final exams. 

At The Laurel School, they make you feel part of a community. They push you to your limits and beyond to make you a very successful student. In middle school they prepare you well for high school. I know this because a few months after graduating from The Laurel School, I stepped on the campus of Archbishop Riordan High School, a prestigious high school in San Francisco. For the first semester there, I was very successful, attaining straight-A’s, in part because of the efforts made at The Laurel School to prepare for the next level of education. To make a long story short, if you have a child with mild to moderate learning differences, I strongly advise you to look at this school. If you choose to send them there, it will be worth it, because a diagnosis does not define you. One defines their own path.

—Emilio Esteban Gorog