• Jordan Toma

Special-Ed Student Shares Success Story

Updated: Jul 19, 2018

ALEXANDRIA, NJ - “God, why didn't you make me smart?”

That's one of the notes Jordan Toma wrote to himself back in grade school. A severe learning disability, exacerbated by high anxiety, frustration and hopelessness soaked his childhood in failure. Until he learned to overcome his deficiencies with hard work.

Toma brought his success story to the Delaware Valley High School library on the evening of Thursday, May 3, to share it with students who need to hear it, along with their parents. Although he has his own insurance agency in Westfield, Toma's sideline business is called I'm Just a Kid With an IEP, LLC. Its slogan is: “I needed who I am now to walk into my school when I was younger. Now I will be that person for someone else.”

Smiling, humorous, warm, and constantly in motion, Toma said, “In sixth grade, when I'd see the school bus coming, my heart would start pounding and I'd be crying.” He was getting special help, but on through high school he continued failing academically, although he had some success as a wrestler.

His mother believed in him, but his father was no more than grimly hopeful about his son's future. His 1.7 GPA in high school and low SAT scores could not get him into college. But with just a few weeks left of high school, a counselor put him in touch with the Centenary University wrestling coach, and at graduation time, the longed-for fat acceptance envelope arrived.

“My mom fell on her knees like I got into Harvard,” recalled Toma. But there was a catch. He had to start with remedial summer school, which made him furious. While his friends were going to the beach, his parents drove him to the Hackettstown campus. Alone in his dorm room, he wept tears of frustration and anger.

Then he went into the bathroom, looked in the mirror and vowed to change. And he did.

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© 2018 by Jordan Toma.