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A Place to Bloom

September 5, 2019

Photo by Jordan Sanchez on Unsplash

By Karla Alarcon

When our daughter Dannyella was diagnosed with autism, we didn’t even know what autism was. Our homework was to find out what we could do to help her, but not change her. Danyella is perfect just the way she is.

In looking for a school for her, I didn’t want to put her in a bubble where everything would be perfect. I want to help Dannyella be in society, be who she is, and be accepted just as she is. I found good district elementary schools that gave her the support she needed, but that also placed her in a special education class. My goal was always for her to be in a mainstream class.

I knew that finding the right middle school for her would be crucial. Middle school is the foundation for children’s success in high school and in college, and a time when kids start to change and realize who they are.

I heard about Bright Star Schools, a local charter public school network, from another parent. I attended an information session about Rise Kohyang Middle School, and I remember the principal, Dr. Eliza KimLy said, “If you’re looking for a school that has a beautiful football field and campus, this isn’t it. But if you’re looking for a school that will challenge your child to be a better person, a better student, and a better citizen, then this is the right school for you.”

Though I was inspired by Dr. KimLy, I still had my concerns. I talked to the school’s teachers and the Director of Inclusive Education (Inclusive Education is what Bright Star calls Special Education). They all assured me that Dannyella was going to get all of the help she needed as a mainstream student so that she could learn and thrive. I knew it would be tough for her, but to give her the opportunity to learn alongside other kids in the mainstream class would also give her the opportunity to blossom.

The support of the school staff has been so important for her. The teachers, the staff, and my family, we all work together as a team for Dannyella’s success. I wouldn’t be able to do it without their support. The teachers are always in contact with me, making sure that Dannyella is getting all the help she needs. I know I can always contact them, and whenever I do, they’re always on top of it.

Together, we all have one goal: to have Dannyella succeed in life. Through strong communication and support, Dannyella thrived in middle school, and her grades went from Fs to Bs, which was a huge success for her.


When she graduated from 8th grade, she gave a presentation to the teachers, the other students, and to me. I couldn’t believe she was the same girl who was diagnosed with autism, and had speech and behavior problems. She was so confident and could handle a conversation.

Dannyella will have challenges, as everyone has challenges in their lives. But I know she will overcome these challenges because she has a strong base. Dannyella is now thriving at a Bright Star high school and thinking about college to become a teacher for special kids just like her. She is so inspired by her teachers at Bright Star Schools. I am more than grateful to Bright Star Schools for everything that they have done for my daughter.

Karla Alarcon is a proud Bright Star Schools parent.