To finalize our October celebrations of Dyslexia, ADHD, and Learning Differences Awareness Month, Chere Flowers, Director of Development, had the pleasure of catching up with Jaylon Smallwood, a 2015 graduate of Noble Academy, to complete our Building Great Futures blog series. Here is a glimpse of their time together.
I tried to think of one word that would sum up my time with Jaylon and I couldn't just think of one. Instead, I will give you three - Noble Academy WayⓇ! Through hearing Jaylon recount his time at Noble, all I could think about was the Noble Academy WayⓇ. It is quite literally our trademark. The Noble Academy WayⓇ is defined as a set of strategies, techniques, and programs that we use to help our students develop the skills that are needed to become successful life-long learners. While Jaylon definitely benefitted from our small class sizes and personalized instruction, he also benefitted from our supportive environment and the life and social skills he was taught inside and outside of the classroom. At Noble, Jaylon found a place where he belonged. He did not let his learning differences define what he could become. Jaylon Smallwood, the student who once built entire cities out of legos and building blocks has now graduated with a master's degree in Urban Design and is working with a multi-national planning and design company.
Whether you are a student here for a few years or you graduate from Noble, we dedicate ourselves to Building Great Futures - futures that are just as bright as Jaylon's.
Thank you for coming along with us on this series! I hope you enjoy Jaylon's story!
When did you attend Guilford Day School/Noble Academy?
I started the 2nd grade at Guilford Day School in 2005. During my tenure at Guilford Day, the school went through a rebranding process and I graduated from Noble Academy in 2015.
Tell us about your life before you came to Noble. What kind of challenges were you facing at the time?
Before I came to Noble I had a very hard time learning. Basic reading and writing skills did not come easily to me. I could memorize words said in class, but I couldn’t tell you what they meant or how to spell them. Because of this I really hated English and reading. The teachers in my public school really cared about me and my education, but they just didn’t have the resources to help me with the challenges I faced.
When I started my career at Noble, my mom was hoping for an educational experience that would help me where the public school system was unable to do so. She hoped Noble would provide me with skills to better understand and connect to the information that I was struggling with daily. She didn’t want anything to stop me from achieving my goals and dreams in the future.
How did things change for you after arriving at Noble?
After arriving at Noble, the subjects I once hated became the classes I loved. I went from not being able to fully read and write words, to loving them. I remember I used to carry six to seven books around with me that I would be reading throughout the entire day. At Noble things just clicked, and when they didn’t, and I got frustrated, the teachers were patient and able to help me through them so I could understand. The school allowed me to change my weaknesses into my strengths.
Do you have any memorable moments you would like to share?
So many staff members at Noble made a difference in my life, it’s impossible to just name one. I really appreciate Mrs. Barrier (Donna Barrier) who made learning math easy and gifting me with the toy turtle I still have today, Mrs. Spooner (Kathryn Spooner) who engaged and encouraged my wild imagination, Mrs. Ellen and Mrs. Diane in The Knights Club who allowed me to build grand towers and ziplines in the library, Mrs. Spence (Christian Spence) who shared my excitement and love for history, and Mrs. Payne (Vicki Payne) and Mrs. Hughes (Susan Hughes) who pushed me out of my shell to engage and hang out with more people.
It’s hard to understate how important this school has been in my life. However, one memory I appreciate the most is when in The Knights Club my friends and I were having a debate on different governments and their merits. We had talked for over two hours on this topic, but none of us would let it go. We all wanted to prove the others wrong, but the reason we talked for so long is simply because we enjoyed each other’s company. When I came to Noble that was my greatest fear, finding friends you could feel comfortable with and hang around. I appreciate Noble for creating a place where students from different worlds and different backgrounds can come together and feel comfortable and appreciated by one another. It’s a place where I made the greatest friends.
Now that you have left Noble, what is your life like? What are some accomplishments you are most proud of?
Since I’ve left Noble, I have earned my bachelor’s degree in Architecture and my master’s degree in Urban Design from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC). I’m very proud of the master’s degree as I am the second member of my family to have achieved this honor. In the future, I hope to earn a doctorate degree. Currently, I’m working with a multi-national planning and design company, Stantec, as a planner, and I am excited to see what the future holds for me with this company as my experience grows. I’m also proud to help the school as a member of the Board of Trustees because it provides me the opportunity to assist the school in its mission to support and help kids in our community who are just like me.