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Where are they now? Spotlight on Exploris alumni!
Tyrone Demery, age 23, Exploris grad (2004)
NCSU student, majoring in French
“Exploris was the starting point of where I really came into knowledge. I miss that style of teaching. It was three years of something completely different.
“I remember a project in the 6th-grade year. We had to research a country in the Middle East. We picked Algeria. They had a person come in who wrote in Arabic. I have never seen that before. It was the same year as 9/11. I think if I had been anywhere else I would have had a completely different view of what happened. They sat us down in a room like adults and talked to us. Then we went to the museum to watch the news as things happened.
“Before I started at State, I spent three months in France and Morocco. I didn’t want to go on a tour; I wanted to go on my own terms. Exploris is where I first learned about the world. They go out of their way to teach geography. I started studying French at Exploris.
“I keep in touch with all my friends at Exploris. A lot of people look back at middle school with horror, but we don’t.”
Ashley Hathaway, 23, Exploris graduate (2004)
Professional Dancer, Carolina Ballet
I was very nervous about going to Middle School. It was scary to think about going somewhere that was so big, had long halls of lockers and really large classes. At Exploris, there were only 60 kids per grade. You got lots of one-on-one time with the teachers. You became almost like a small family.
I’m very much a visual and hands-on learner. Being in the back of a classroom with 30, 40 or more kids, I don’t always learn that well. But being in a classroom with 15, where the teacher can come around and work with you individually… it really helped. The teachers figured out what each individual kid needed to reach their potential.
One moment that stood out was during a portfolio meeting. It was seventh grade. My parents had come in to view my work. Shannon, my teacher, was sitting next to me when I told my parents that I wasn’t going to college — that I was going to become a professional dancer. My dad dropped his jaw and said, “What?” And Shannon said, “I believe she can do it.”
Having her support and the support of all my other teachers and classmates was really important. There’s so much pressure in America to go to college. It’s the path to bettering yourself and creating opportunities for a good life, but for me, that wasn’t my path. I wanted to be a professional dancer. They made me believe that I could. Having that authority figure say that I could… I needed that.
I still keep in touch with my middle school friends, even though we’ve grown up and changed. It’s just nice to know that everyone is doing things they enjoy, things that are fulfilling. Exploris taught us that life is something you need to work hard at but also enjoy. It was learning in an entirely different and rich way.