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Soon-to-Be Coonley Elementary School Graduate Shares Her Passion for Special Education

31 May 2023

Elle has been part of Coonley's Best Buddies program since she was in third grade. 

Coonley Student Elle

Eighth-grade student Elle has been known for many things over the past 10 years at Coonley Elementary School, especially her involvement in Coonley’s Best Buddies program. As she’s taken on more leadership responsibilities related to this interest of hers, not only has it positively impacted her own experience at Coonley, but she’s also inspired those around her to help create a more inclusive and supportive culture at the school. 

“In addition to her work with Best Buddies, Elle also completed a civic action project related to the state law that all schools are responsible for teaching students about disabilities, which is an area that we can continue to grow in at Coonley,” said Ms. Brennen Humphrey, Coonley’s principal. “We’re looking at incorporating that into the curriculum more next year thanks to a gentle nudge from Elle.” 

Get to know more about Elle’s time at Coonley below.

What are your interests inside the classroom? 

I really love math. I’m super into it and am on the math team at school. I’m in a geometry class right now, and it’s going pretty well. We just finished a unit on circles on a graph and knowing the equations for that. 

I have dyslexia, so reading and writing have always been more of a struggle for me. Spell check has helped me a lot. I also have a really good memory so I keep a checklist in my head to make sure I’m completing all of my assignments. 

What is your favorite memory of being a Coonley student? 

My favorite memory is my first Best Buddies meeting back when I was in third grade. I remember it as one of the best days of my life. I was so excited because I had been looking forward to this program since I was pretty young. While I would have been doing school work, I instead got to play games and have fun with my friend. We took a picture together, and I still have that picture hanging up in my room.

Go Cougars Mural

How are you feeling about graduating? 

I’m sad to leave Coonley behind. I’m 14 years old now and have been here since I was four. I think I’m definitely the saddest to leave the Best Buddies program behind because that’s made the biggest impact on my life. It’s really changed my life and has impacted the way I view the world. 

What are you looking forward to in high school? 

I’m very nervous, but I do feel lucky that nine kids from my class, including my twin sister, are going to the same school as me, which is Northside College Prep. Number one: I’m very excited about harder math classes, and I’ve heard they have an amazing math curriculum there. 

I’m also really excited to figure out how to participate in Best Buddies in a new place. Northside also has over 100 clubs, and I’m interested in joining some others as well, such as their Jewish Student Connections club and an American Sign Language club. 

Where do you see yourself in 20 years? 

When I was six, I came home from school and told my mom that I wanted to be a special education teacher. She thought it was a phase, but, by the time I turned 10, she realized that I was dead set on this goal. I would love to come back to CPS. 

What advice would you give to future Coonley eighth-graders? 

Spend your time on the programs you love because you have a lot of opportunities here. It’s easy to be a member of everything, but if you instead focus on what you really love, you’ll really be able to make a difference. 

If you could sum up your time at Coonley in one word, what would it be and why? 

Incredible. It’s very rare to spend 10 years of your life in one place, and I had the opportunity to just keep building and building on what I was passionate about for so many years. I feel like you don’t get too many chances in your life to do that.

Coonley Yard

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