Redefining her life

Teacher describes struggling student's turnaround as 'exceptional'

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WHS senior Miranda Lynch helps a special needs student stack the lunch tables in the school commons area. "I love helping them," she said. "It is so much fun." Lynch struggled at her school in Minnesota but is now on track to graduate since transferring to WHS last spring.

When teacher John Miller first opened Miranda Lynch’s case file, he was worried.

“I saw she had gotten into trouble in Minnesota and was a bit of a wild child,” he said.

Miller teaches students with emotional behavioral disorders, and Lynch’s file was referred to him when she transferred to Washougal High School last spring.

“One of the first questions I asked her is what had happened in Minnesota to cause these problems,” he said. “She replied, ‘I don’t want to talk about it.'”

However, Miller’s first impressions proved to be wrong, as Lynch made what he describes as a “dramatic turnaround,” after enrolling at WHS.

“She has been an exceptional student and defends kids who get picked on in other classes,” he said. “She has a real soft spot for kids with problems.”

There’s a quote that says, “Stubbornly persist, and you will find that the limits of your stubbornness go well beyond the stubbornness of your limits.”

Lynch, on track to graduate in a few months, seems to fit this statement.

Once a person who was angry and internalized her feelings with an eating disorder, she is now excited about the future and plans to attend Clark College, focusing on early childhood development.

“I wasn’t doing good at all in Minnesota and something needed to change,” Lynch said. “Here, I began fresh and focused on school and improving myself. I needed to do that because I hadn’t done it before.”

Lynch struggled with anorexia and, as she puts it, “Put bad things in my body.”

“Now, I am a lot healthier,” she said.

In addition to school, the 18-year-old has two jobs and also helps special needs students at the high school.

“My old school was really small and everybody knew everything about you,” she said. “I couldn’t get rid of my past. Here, I could set a better standard and different impressions. No one in my family can believe I am doing this well. They are shocked.”

Her advice to other struggling students is not to give up.

“Even if you think you are at the end, you are not,” Lynch said. “I have proven that change can happen.”

Miller looks forward to attending graduation in a few months and seeing Lynch get her hard-earned diploma.

“I am very excited,” he said. “Very rarely do we get kids like this, who struggle and then turn it around so fast. The community may read about students like these in the police reports, but they also need to realize that they really can change. Miranda is an example that I will remember for years to come.”