Learn Dream & Achieve: Zionsville teen receives statewide honor for overcoming learning disabilities

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By Mark Ambrogi

For Caroline Adie, it was love at first sight.

Adie took a day to observe classes at Fortune Academy, a school designed to help those with language learning difficulties, in Lawrence Township in Indianapolis.

“I had the best experience ever in a school setting,” Adie said. “When I got in the car, I cried because I wanted to come back the next day. I didn’t want to go back to my old school. It impacted me so much. It impacted my mom and dad so much that they felt they had to get me there ASAP.”

So Adie, 17, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia, transferred from Zionsville West Middle School during the middle of eighth grade.

“That wasn’t working out very well,” Adie said. “The social and education aspect just wasn’t for me.”

Now a Fortune senior, Adie has flourished. She received the 2016 Learn Dream & Achieve Award this fall. The award, given annually by the Learning Disabilities Association of Indiana, honors the accomplishments of an Indiana high school or college student who has a learning disability or attention deficit disorder.

“I’m very honored,” said Adie, who became the second student to win the award in the school’s 15-year history. “I didn’t realize how big a deal it was until I went to the actual ceremony. I didn’t realize it was a statewide thing.”

Adie was nominated by her head of school Janet George, who also is the school’s founder.

“It was a complete surprise,” said Adie, who didn’t know she was even nominated.

Adie said a real difference maker was learning the Orton-Gillingham approach to reading, spelling and writing instruction. It’s one of 13 schools in the nation to teach the O-G approach.

“I had it for a half a year, and I’m reading so much better now,” Adie said. “It changed me. I saw the world differently. It’s indescribable how much it helped with spelling, reading, every aspect.”

Adie said the smaller classes provided more individualized help.

“My social skills have been better,” Adie said. “I’ve come a far way, especially confidence-wise.”

George has watched the growth.

“She’s come a long way from a very introverted child with no confidence and who lacked academic skills and the social emotional part as well,” George said. “She’s blossomed into a really confident young woman ready to go to college. She’s prepared and she’ll be able to do whatever she puts her mind to. She has leadership qualities and started her own business here. That speaks volumes of how far she’s come.”

Adie and a former student created a business called Organization, Copying and other Duties as needed for teachers as a project in January 2016.

“She ended up not staying at the school, so I took over full management,” said Adie, who has one employee. “It’s to help out teachers who don’t have time to do little things that would make a difference. We can do bulletin boards or rearrange the classroom. They can buy the certificate, or a student can buy it for them.”

In addition, Adie has worked at the Goodwill Industries store in Whitestown as a cashier for five months and as a babysitter.

Adie plans to major in nursing at the University of Southern Indiana. Amy Adie said her daughter has always wanted to be a nurse.

“We knew we had to get a better environment for her testing and her grades so she would be able to do that,” said Amy, who has worked as the academy’s business manager for two years. “The smaller classroom and family-like atmosphere helps. We drive 35 miles to get here. It was a big commitment for us.”

But well worth it.

MEET CAROLINE ADIE

  • Personal: Has attended Camp Tecumseh YMCA Campers in Leadership Training. She plans to become a counselor after her freshman year. Adie played volleyball for four years at Fortune Academy.
  • Hobby: “I shoot in Glock (pistols) competitions. That’s a hobby of mine, going to the range with my dad and killing paper, as my dad would say. I did get first place at one competition.”
  • Favorite TV shows: “Daredevil” and “Limitless.”
  • Favorite class: “Chemistry. I’ve always loved math. Math is really fun. When it comes to word problems in math, that goes downhill fast. But I feel I’m good with numbers.”
  • Why nursing?: “The only thing I knew I wanted to do when I got older is to work with children and help them. I always kind of wanted to be a doctor. But I knew that would be too much for me, so I decided on nursing. There are so many options to work with children in nursing.”
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