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Kevin's Story

Student_Able_to_Pursue_His_Passion_in_College_Thanks_to_Long_Valley Card IconStudent Able to Pursue His Passion in College Thanks to Long ValleyTop of Page

ESL Student Finds a Second Home and Support for His Artistic Talents at Long Valley

Kevin Basurto just finished his first year of college, an accomplishment that seemed unlikely when he first entered Long Valley School’s Doyle program, which offers classroom-based education from grades TK to eighth, and teacher-assisted Personalized Learning through high school. 

“When he was in preschool, he didn’t speak English,” says teacher Ann Weaver. “He didn’t speak Spanish. His ability to communicate was severely limited.” 

Kevin’s language abilities were a few years behind his peers as his family had immigrated from Mexico with limited English skills. But Weaver would adjust the curriculum to fit his unique needs. Helping him focus on learning to spell just five words at time instead of 20, for example, helped Kevin become successful.

“When we started doing that, he started relaxing,” Weaver says. “He’d actually learn all five words.”

The school community became even more important when his family experienced an unexpected crisis. One day, a police officer stopped Kevin’s mother, Edith, for a broken taillight. The stop led to her eventual deportation. For three years, Kevin only saw his mother on brief trips to Tijuana. Throughout this challenging time, the Doyle community rallied around Kevin, supplementing the support that his mother wished she could have given.

“My friends did what they could, helped the teacher help me and told me to keep on going,” Kevin says. “Especially around high school, my friends were like family members.”

Eventually, Edith received clearance to return and was welcomed back with a huge banner and bright bouquet from the school.

Over the years, Weaver watched as Kevin steadily blossomed as a student. He became ever more engaged and his academic achievement improved. He also discovered a new passion when he began drawing a comic strip series about his life in high school. Weaver would proofread the pieces, helping further refine Kevin’s English.

Before Kevin left Doyle, he left a final gift for the school that had given him so much. “On the wall, next to where he sat, he posted all those comics,” Weaver says. “We left it up all year.” This encouragement of his art led Kevin to pursue graphic design in college.

After spending kindergarten through 12th grade at the school, Kevin’s journey exemplifies the power of Doyle’s personalized approach to education. “I think this program has been the best thing for him,” Weaver says. “His dad has even said so. His dad looked at every one of us, and almost with tears, said, ‘I can’t thank you enough for what you’ve done for my son because he is going to be able to go on.’”