Unique Learners Rising Above-A Gold Award Project

Diagnosed with dyslexia and ADD in early elementary, Rachelle Johnson had to work harder than her classmates to do equally well in school. "Over time, I noticed other kids with learning differences not succeeding and even giving up academically," says Rachelle.

"Often I’d be asked what set me apart, and why I had not given up like so many other students like me. I developed a passion for helping others with learning disabilities to gain the confidence, self-esteem, tools, and determination to achieve academic success. It was a natural fit for my Gold Award project."

For her Gold Award project, Rachelle helped students with learning differences achieve academic success. "I’ve worked with LDA Minnesota and the Upper Midwest Branch of the International Dyslexia Association as a planning volunteer for their regional conferences as well as planning and participating on student panels."

At Eden Prairie High School, Rachelle founded and is president of Unique Learners Rising Above, a club for students with learning differences interested to achieve academic success. "We have monthly speakers on topics such as motivation, mindfulness, test-taking strategies, college planning, and more. On October 21, we hosted a screening of the documentary “ADD & Loving It?” followed by a professional and student panel."

"One of the things I’m most proud of is the frequent outreach of parents and students sharing their stories and seeking my advice and mentorship. It’s so rewarding to help kids find ways to improve their self-advocacy skills and be okay with their unique learning style."

As a final component of her Gold Award, Rachelle will be presenting a webinar for IDA-UMB on her story of overcoming learning challenges to achieve high academic success. "My career goal is to one day work in the disability field performing diagnostics and helping kids overcome their unique learning challenges."