A young woman labelled “unteachable” as a child has completed high school — with flying colours.
Kai Smart, 17, graduated from King’s-Edgehill Boarding School in Nova Scotia, Canada, with straight A’s, despite a disorder that makes it difficult to understand speech that was not diagnosed for years. Now she plans to pursue her passion for creative writing at university and campaign for others who have learning disabilities.
Kai said: “You should not let your learning disability affect anything in your life — it’s who you are and it shouldn’t stop you from anything.
“You can still be the person that you want to be and you can still be potentially successful in life.”
Kai, from Pembroke, was born with auditory processing disorder and has difficulty with the spoken word because of a poor connection between her brain and her ears.
She explained that her condition made it difficult for her to learn in a traditional classroom environment.
Kai added that she went through six different schools before she was diagnosed. She said: “It was kind of upsetting to grow up with this because it made me socially awkward. I just felt like it was just always going to be like this and I didn’t know if there were any solutions.”
Kai’s mother Lisa founded the Bermuda Centre for Creative Learning with Cindy Corday and Lindsey Sirju to help Kai and others like her find a way to learn that suited them.
Kai said that she used an FM transmitter, which required her teachers to speak into a small microphone that relayed clarified speech to an ear piece.
She added that, once she was able to hear clearly, she did everything she could to make sure that she was successful.
Kai said: “I was able to clearly understand what people were telling me through the transmitter device and it made me feel more confident. It just made me believe in myself and I thought I could be a hardworking successful young lady.”
Kai said that she moved to Nova Scotia after she graduated from the BCCL to attend Landmark East boarding school and later King’s-Edgehill.
She admitted that boarding school was a big change, but that she stayed afloat by taking plenty of notes and asking her teachers and peers for help.
Kai added that she kept motivated by remembering how much her parents believed in her. She said: “I knew how proud they were of me and that they did everything for me. I just wanted to keep making them proud.”
Kai said that she had been accepted by four universities and planned to attend Portsmouth University in England.
She added that she wanted to study creative writing and film, which she said she had a passion for since she was a child.
Kai explained: “My dad and I have this tradition where we watch a movie every Friday, and it can be from any kind of genre.
“We’ve had this tradition since I was two years old, so I’m really interested in movies.”
She added: “I’ve also read stories with my dad every single night, since I was three years old.
“I’ve really liked reading with him, I’ve always wanted to write stories and I just like putting my thoughts on paper.”