Summit Academy Secondary School – Akron Senior Shares His Story
Jaden Garvey has a passion for photography. He can often be found outdoors, taking pictures of setting suns, rural landscapes and star-filled nighttime skies. He’s also an astronomy buff, hooked ever since he was a little boy by a Blue’s Clues episode on stargazing. Now the Summit Academy Secondary School – Akron senior teaches astronomy to his classmates. Some of those classmates are autistic, like he is, but no mind. “It’s just a quirk,” Garvey says.
Garvey says people tend to categorize others with autism inaccurately. “Just like with politics, you’re red or blue, but that’s not always definitive,” he says. “You shouldn’t let autism define you or let people judge you for something you were born with. It doesn’t help or hinder. You can do a lot of good with autism.”
That goodness shines through every day when Garvey teaches a 10-minute segment of Summit Academy’s physical science course, with a focus on astronomy. He knows his stuff. He teaches his peers about the patterns of the stars, about planet features and movement, and about the impact of climate change.
“If we treat the Earth wrong it might look like Mars, depleted of water, or Venus, blazing by the greenhouse effect,” Garvey says.
At school, where educators and staff teach and guide with an altruistic style, Garvey is accepted, understood and supported. Here, the members of the school community have each other’s backs, Garvey says.
“The students are very welcoming to talk to. Teachers understand some kids learn differently and everyone needs something different,” Garvey explains. “I feel comfortable talking to my teachers because in a way they feel like family.”
Those educators are helping Garvey envision his future as a science teacher and photographer. He is focused on going to college and parlaying his passions into a career.
“He’s a sweetheart. He’s the kind of kid who is super inquisitive and likes to know things for the sake of knowing them,” says Summit Academy Lead Intervention Specialist Mary Reville. “He’s super genuine, always gives his best effort in class and is very supportive of his classmates.”
Garvey says he learned his work ethic from his grandmother and kindness from his mother.
“I don’t know what Jaden would have done if he did not have the opportunity to attend Summit Academy,” says Garvey’s grandmother, Donna Rightnour. “He has proven that he can exceed in life, and for that we have you all to thank.”
For Garvey, exceeding in life and touching the lives of others have no limits, just like the universe he studies.
“Jaden is an inspiration to all, who will be greatly missed upon his graduation,” Reville says. “We cannot wait to hear about all of the positive ways he impacts other lives in the future.”