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Emma Coffey

Emma and Alayne
EmmaEmma Teaching

Growing up my mom made many sacrifices to ensure my sister, Alayne, and I received the best education possible. She encouraged our learning through simple things like taking us to the learning store, buying flashcards for us to practice math facts, and making us play Hooked on Phonics at night. Neither of us liked that game, but my mom insisted. 

I would notice that mom would buy Alayne ice cream as a treat/reward when she got good grades. It was so frustrating for me each time it happened and I questioned her so many times. I got good grades so why didn’t she get ice cream for me? I also watched my sister continually fail assignments and classes while trying her hardest. When Alayne was in her senior year of high school, she qualified for an Individualized Education Program (IEP) due to a learning disability. 

For years my grandma picked Alayne and I up from school once per week and took us out. Every week we got a treat before we dropped Alayne off at tutoring. My grandma and I then spent an hour thrift shopping (one of her favorite activities). I think we rarely bought anything, but I clearly remember those experiences shared with my sister and grandma. I wonder how things could’ve been different if she had help at school sooner. While I did enjoy shopping with my grandma, it also broke my heart to see my sister put in the hard work with such small rewards. 

In my work today, I often think back to the times when my sister struggled and the impact that had on all of us. She’s always had an outgoing, enthusiastic, energetic personality with all the determination to go alongside, which has made her successful in who she is today, but it wasn’t enough when she was younger. All of the struggles in the past and typical sibling challenges have caused problems with us getting along from time to time, but for years now, we’ve been the best of friends. We both know we have each other for support whenever we need it. 

I hope that in my career I can be a part in helping siblings understand why they don’t get the ice cream, and help students overcome their struggles to see all that they’re capable of doing in this world in spite of the challenges they face.