West Orange High School Junior Recognized for 2021 New Jersey School Board Student Keynote Speech

West Orange High School junior Maura Baker had the unique opportunity to deliver the student keynote opening speech at the 2021 New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA) Virtual Workshop, held Oct. 26-28.

Baker is the second WOHS student elected to the New Jersey Association of Student Councils (NJASC) as a State Board of Education (SBOE) Student Representative. She becomes a non-voting member but will have the opportunity to raise awareness for important issues impacting students from across New Jersey.

In her speech, Baker discussed her challenges as a student with dyslexia.

“One thing I really want people to understand is that having a learning difference or a learning disability doesn’t mean that you can’t learn, or that you’re not smart. It just means you may have to work a little harder to learn in some cases,” she said.

Dyslexia affects approximately 20 percent of the population and accounts for 80-90 percent of individuals with learning issues, according to the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity. Dyslexic students may have difficulties with reading, spelling, decoding, and recognizing words.

Despite the challenges, Baker has founded a blog, website, and Twitter account called “Smart Kids Mad Myths,” providing students with tools to “focus on the importance of time management, communicating their needs, staying academically sharp during the summer, understanding personal learning differences, and seeking classroom accommodations that might help,” according to the NJSBA.

Her goal is to improve student experiences in New Jersey, both academically and emotionally.

Baker was recognized at an event held at the Glen Ridge Country Club on Nov. 10.

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