Back to School
By Ray Strunk
Summer is coming to an end, which means it’s almost time for school to start back up!
As a kid I remember counting down until the first day of school, excited to reconnect with my friends that I hadn’t seen in months. I spent seemingly every waking hour of my summer break practicing the sports we’d play in gym and at recess, eager to show off my talents in front of the class. I knew that all of that practice would pay off when my peers would recognize me as the gym class hero. To me, this is what elementary school was all about.
Going back to school doesn’t have the same meaning for every child, however. For some it serves only as an escape from the troubles they face every day at home.
This was the case for Dashun Jackson.
“As a boy, I suffered just about every form of abuse you can imagine—emotional and physical attacks by my mother, later sexual abuse by her and her boyfriend,” he recalled.
Dashun was removed from his home when he was thirteen years old.
“After that, I bounced around, from a children’s emergency shelter to an aunt’s house, then back to the shelter … Without knowledge or the power to speak up, I felt like a victim.”
Everything changed when Dashun met a CASA volunteer named Robert.
“Robert taught me how to communicate, how to represent myself and my needs.”
Dashun says that Robert taught him how to stand up for himself and make sure his voice was heard.
Robert remained by Dashun’s side as he navigated through high school.
“When I took hold of my diploma, I heard his cheers above the rest.”
Dashun earned a degree in psychology and now serves as a counselor in Las Vegas. He dedicates his time to helping children with similar life stories and even co-authored the Nevada Foster Care Bill of Rights.
“I’ve been given a powerful voice. I intend to use it as much as I can, for as long as I can.”