Breaking Barriers– Heritage High School Student Inducted into National Honor Society
Justin Zielke becomes first Heritage High School Student receiving special education services to be inducted into National Honor Society (NHS).
There are no limits for those with developmental disabilities when provided the right amount of support.
Justin Zielke is a student at Heritage High School in Rogers, who receives special education services. In 2016, he was nominated for National Honor Society but was not chosen. He was nominated once again this year. His direct support staff professional, Jason Dowd, was determined to support Justin in becoming more competitive for this honor. Jason is an employee of Arkansas Support Network and has worked with Justin for about seven years.
Jason contacted Justin’s NHS sponsor and asked how Justin could improve his chances of being chosen this year. The reply was that Justin lacked leadership skills. Jason got together with Justin’s, family, and support team at school to brainstorm ideas about how to demonstrate Justin’s leadership skills. Justin’s mom contacted his counselor at Camp Barnabas. The Camp Barnabas counselor said Justin was absolutely a leader. He served as a Cabin Leader, lead the songs at nighttime, was always encouraging of his peers, and kept everyone on schedule. Justin’s Camp Barnabas counselor was such a believer in his leadership skills, she volunteered to be a reference on the application.
The team then began to talk to people in Justin’s community. They learned that Justin recruits others to join him in various charity walks. Numerous individuals said he was always cheering for and uplifting others, and he is the first one on the dance floor at dances. Justin even asked a girl he didn’t know to dance with him at homecoming. Justin is indeed a leader!
Justin hand wrote an essay as part of the application process. The school had never had a student who received special education services become a National Honor Student, so they had many questions for Justin’s team. They wondered if he could sit still in meetings and the ceremony, participate in community service, and be safe during all of the activities associated with the honor. After Justin’s parents, Jason, and the school team answered all questions and came up with a plan to provide proper support to Justin throughout the activities, Justin became the first student receiving special education services in Heritage High School history to be inducted into National Honor Society!
Congratulations Justin! Your Arkansas Support Network family is incredibly proud of you.
Thank you, Jason and all of Justin’s support team for exemplifying the mission and values of ASN and providing the right amount of support to help Justin achieve his goal.