A Change of Heart

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"They're just the same as we are. They can't do as much as we can. But, they can do practically anything, if we help them."
Marquise Leavitt is an 8th grader at Dilworth Middle School, in Sparks and he says he can help these students with disabilities, but they're helping him too.

"When people make fun of them, it kind of hurts me because they're just the same as we are and I try to help them know, they're just the same as we are."
He says he realizes what it's like to be the one struggling.
He says last year was a little rough; then he realized that he could help others, if he helped himself first.

Not only does he say he is a good example to his classmates now, Dana Ryan, one of his teachers, says his grade point average climbed from a 2.75 last year to a 3.75 this year.
"He had a rough time last year and he made some bad choices and he got involved in a lot of drama. But, he made a concerted effort to change his behavior and change his attitude."

Now, this teenager volunteers as a peer tutor with students who have disabilities and also students learning english as a second language.

Dino Moler is the special education teacher who works with Marquise in his class.
Moler says the change is evident, and the decision life-changing.
"One of the big things we want the school climate to learn is that our kids are not different. There are some differences, but they are not completely different. They have the same interests, same likes/dislikes, a lot of the same abilities of other kids here. Marquise is really good at helping those kids reach that potential."