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Stories of us: Altamont | Beecher City | Dieterich | Effingham | St. Anthony | Teutopolis

Especially Inspiring.

Katie Stanley Dieterich High School

Katie Stanley has attended 3 high schools in her 4-year high school career. She has had an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) for as long as she can remember. She has trouble with math and with reading. And before she arrived at Dieterich High School for her junior year, she had some trouble with regular attendance. She pauses here and says, “But mostly, my skipping school was because I was being bullied.” To hear her tell it, the takeaway isn’t a story of loss or of hurdles as much as it is a story of determination and resilience. Katie has played a kind of Judo with her obstacles, pulling their energy into the service of her own advantage, her own refinement. Think of it as the rock-tumbler effect; (Google it, if you’ve never heard of one!) What went in as an ordinary rock came out as a gemstone in her hands.


Next Fall, she’ll be attending Lakeland College in Mattoon, Illinois, and wants to work with people who have disabilities or special needs and she has a particular interest in helping people with Down Syndrome. Primarily, she credits three people for the positive path she’s found; her Biology teacher, Bryan McMillan; her Special Education teacher, Deanna Jansen; and her mother, whom she has watched struggle through her own challenges as a single mother, raising Katie and her brothers, relocating the family for better opportunity, attending college, and — as Katie says — “generally making the most of her life.”


In this especially inspiring young woman, I see empathy, intelligence, humility, acceptance, and determination. Remarkable characteristics, which will not only serve her well but which will serve those lucky enough to be in her sphere. 


The author Eckhart Tolle notably said, “If uncertainty is unacceptable to you, it turns into fear. If it is perfectly acceptable, it turns into increased aliveness, alertness, and creativity.”


By my reckoning, Katie has seen uncertainty and raised it with her own superior bet. A bet of kindness and humility, that will absolutely make a difference in the world she shares with the rest of us. And we’ll all be better for her presence in that world.

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