ESS 2021: Student in foster care system always willing to help others
July 26, 2021
Tyler Sheen
Grade: 12
School: Pershing Continuation High School District: Central USD
ACSA region: 9
By the time Tyler Sheen arrived at Central High East Campus in Fresno, it was his 19th new school. As a child in the foster system, Tyler struggled to find connections with each new caregiver and at each new school. Facing discipline issues, Tyler enrolled in Pershing Continuation High School. There, he found staff members uniquely positioned to help struggling students. Today, Tyler has made great strides dealing with his anger and making connections with others. He is an FFA officer and is driven by his huge heart to help whenever he’s needed, whether it’s counseling a peer to not use drugs or handing out meals to families affected by the pandemic.
What did it mean to you to win the ACSA Every Student Succeeding award? It’s pretty amazing that people noticed what I did. It was kind of tough knowing that I’ve been through different places, different counties, different schools. When you start to work, and you put in hard work and dedication, it pays off. And this is honestly a blessing that I’ve noticed that hard work and dedication actually has paid off. And I appreciate ACSA. Knowing the award, Every Student Succeeding, I was actually in shock when I got the news from my principal. It was pretty crazy.
You were taken away from your mom when you were 11 and put into the foster system. What was that like leaving your family? It was pretty sad and depressing for me. Me being the kid who I was, I loved my mother and we had a lot of good times. We were really close. It was tough going from place to place. I would have limited visitations. So, it would be very tough on me and I would actually cry when I didn’t get those visitations with my mother. I went from place to place all around California, maybe around 20 group homes. You wouldn’t have your personal space to yourself. You always got told what to do so you didn’t really have much freedom. It was challenging.
You talked about staying in 20 different foster homes. How did you cope with that? Coping was one of my main issues when I was growing up. Coping was very tough, and I actually had to rely on myself a lot in tough situations. When I was in foster homes or group homes, I didn’t really have an opportunity to have people by my side like family. Me changing different schools was hard. I was devastated knowing that I had to leave. Knowing that you lose friends, you gain friends, it was kind of depressing.
What would you tell other students who are dealing with instability? Just keep pushing. Life is full of challenges and bumpy roads. It’s not always a straight road. It’s always curvy, bumpy. There may not even be a road. You have to make yourself a road. And it’s tough at my age. It’s really tough at first. You just gotta keep doing it. So, believe in yourself and don’t put yourself down because the more you put yourself down, the more the road is going to crack. If you’re feeling down, make yourself feel better. If you fail, get back up. I’ve been in football for the last five years. I got knocked down. I got myself back up. Do what you need to do to get yourself back up.
R9 2021 ESS Tyler Sheen.
Region 9 2021 ESS winner Tyler Sheen.
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