Matthew Lashenick, a humble, yet determined young man, has not allowed a learning disability to get in the way of achieving academic success. Matthew, diagnosed at age three with a cognitive learning difference, was in the first grade when he enrolled in American Academy - a place that would become a second home to him over the next eleven years until graduation in May 2020.
For Matthew, what would have been a sensory challenge making navigation of most other schools difficult, turned out to be a story of countless successes due to the joint efforts between a determined learner and an institution defined by its commitment to the success of its students. The Lashenick family highlights this: “We can say that Matthew is very confident asserting himself in social situations because of American Academy - a school that tries to reach out and embrace kids.” In many ways, Matthew’s time at American Academy meant more than a college preparatory education at one of Florida’s finest schools - it meant he would have the opportunity to be enriched and engaged by a campus that, according to the Lashenicks, would offer him “countless opportunities through its various clubs and organizations to exceed and excel, both academically and socially.” American Academy enabled Matthew to thrive socially, to the point of active participation in Student Government, baseball, football, robotics, and engineering club, just to name a few of his extracurricular activities.
As a leading member of various clubs at American Academy and American Heritage School, Matthew not only participated in, but also organized events and fund-raisers. According to Matthew’s guidance counselor, Dr. Pierre Michel, in one such fund-raising campaign “Matthew successfully financially supported the education of a child in Bali for five years.”
It is this type of drive and goal-oriented initiative that the American Academy excels at fostering in its students. In fact, the Lashenicks claim that any concerns they had in terms of social limitations were always put at ease by the instructors and coaches at the school. Matthew’s mother expressed that “[American Academy] always made sure he was socialized and they spotlighted him often, even reaching out and inviting him to take on leadership roles in various clubs. He always felt like he was part of an extended family when he was there.” His teachers at American Academy have said that Matthew’s ability to listen to directions and show respect towards peers and instructors have been key in his maturation from a talented adolescent into an exceptional young scholar.
Due to his academic commitment and the leadership of the dedicated teachers, guidance counselors, and coaches at American Academy, Matthew achieved a 4.37 GPA, received nine college acceptances, and was offered scholarship amounts surpassing $227,560.00 by the time he graduated.