By: Caleb Jones
Sometimes in life you come across people that are truly incredible, people that change the world. Julie Young is one of those people. Julie has transformed education worldwide with her belief that her students should be at the center of every decision that she makes. I was fortunate enough to meet Julie in September of 2009, we shook hands as I walked up on stage at Florida Virtual School’s annual professional learning conference. Admittedly, I was nervous, I had never met Julie before, nor had I addressed a room with over one thousand people in it. At 16 years old I was a typical high school student – cocky, loud, and opinionated, I was no different than any other student taking classes at FLVS. What struck me in that moment was that Julie believed in me. She believed that I had something to say to all of those people, she believed that my cocky, loud, and opinionated thoughts had value, she believed that her students should have a voice.
Julie Young is characterized by her belief, and it is this belief that has changed education. Julie believes that each student is capable of accomplishing great things. She believes that the status quo sometimes isn’t good enough. She believes that it’s always worth it to do the right thing, the right way. She believes that every student is worth individual attention, and support from their teachers. She believes that students are all different, and that they’re all worth teaching.
Julie has transformed education not because of what Florida Virtual School has meant to virtual education. Julie has transformed education because of what her belief has meant to students, parents, educators and policymakers everywhere. Julie’s belief that her students were worth it, and that fighting for excellence was a fight worth the challenge changed education.
All I can say to Julie is thank you. Thank you for believing in me when I had given you no reason to do so. Thank you for fighting for my education before you even knew my name. Thank you for the sleepless nights, and the tough decisions, that all ensured my brighter tomorrow. Thank you for not giving up every time someone told you that you couldn’t do it, or that it wasn’t worth it. Thank you for always keeping students, always keeping me, at the center of your attention. Thank you for your sacrifice, thank you for putting my success before your own. Thank you for showing me that my voice mattered, that I could succeed. Thank you for making me believe in myself.
Julie Young hasn’t just changed education, she’s changed the lives of millions of people by always believing in her goal, and in her students. It is a blessing and an honor to know her, because it truly changed my life.
Caleb Jones believes that students should have every opportunity to follow their dreams. As a former learner in a virtual environment, Caleb knows what an impact a personalized education can have, and is a passionate advocate for those opportunities for all students.
FLVS is a Getting Smart Advocacy Partner.