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Vincent Smith School Senior Overcomes Learning Difficulties and Graduates

Vincent Smith School Senior Overcomes Learning Difficulties and Graduates

Mark Irving’s favorite quote could be the tag line for his entire school experience: “If you fight for your dreams, your dreams will fight for you.”

Upon meeting Mark Irving, a hard-working student who loves to put on a show, you’d be surprised to hear of the learning challenges he faced on the road to graduation. Mark entered Vincent Smith School in elementary school, when his parents realized that he was not progressing appropriately in public school. Vincent Smith is an independent day school in Port Washington, specializing in educating students with learning disorders such as dyslexia, or students challenged by AD/HD or school anxiety.

Engaged in a curriculum that focuses on multi-sensory learning and individualized teaching, Mark slowly made steps to try to overcome his learning differences. Bolstered by small class sizes that average five students per teacher, Mark soon discovered a love for English and creative writing. He received essential reinforcement from the therapeutic related services the school provides on-site, such as reading, OT and other therapies.

Because of the small class sizes, he was surrounded by teachers who gave him personalized attention and positive reinforcement, as well as the practical tools he needed for academic advancement. By the time he entered high school, Mark’s progress was notable. His teachers were especially impressed by his determination to overcome his reading challenges, especially in comprehension.

He displayed focused interest and curiosity about whatever he was reading and even when his progress sometimes faltered, he picked himself up and pushed to “get it right.” No matter the obstacle, Mark never became complacent about where he was—he always wanted to move forward to reach his true potential.

Mark found his particular passion in creative expression. He became the “go-to” DJ for school dances and wrote and performed his own original rap songs at holiday concerts and the annual talent show (sample below). Among so many students who suffered from extreme shyness or social anxiety, Mark found the confidence to be the first out on the dance floor or ready to sign up to perform, thereby encouraging his fellow classmates to find the nerve to participate, as well.

Now that he’s graduating high school, his teachers and others who’ve come in contact with Mark all comment on how proud they are of his progress and accomplishments. But no one is more proud than Mark is of himself, which, for a teenager with a learning disorder, is the greatest achievement of all.

You’ll Be You and I’ll Be Me

By Mark Irving

You can call it a fantasy
I call it reality
I’m just living life
Hanging out with my friends
And doing what we do makes me feel alright

I’m not that interested in that expensive thing
I’m better off showing you my own bling

I think about this when I’m under a tree
And now I know what kind of person I want to be

Now I see oh now I see and it’s clear to me
That you’ll be you and I’ll be me

Why do I keep acting like a kid
That’s something that I should really get rid
But I don’t care if others think it’s wrong
I’m glad with who I am and will always stay strong

Nothing is better than to relax
When it’s time to put on a show
It’s time to put on an act

You can’t change me because that’s never
Going to happen
Looking good is my kind of fashion

Now I see oh now I see and it’s clear to me
That you’ll be you and I’ll be me 

I still don’t understand much about the world
It’s okay if I’m not with a girl
But now I know and now I see what kind of person
I want to be

Now I see oh now I see and it’s clear to me
That you’ll be you and I’ll be me 


Vincent Smith School
322 Port Washington Blvd

Image: Mark Irving overcame dyslexia and now writes his own rap songs

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