Justice Tigner Returns Home to Catalyst Maria

My name is Justice Tigner and I am an alumni of and current intern at Catalyst Maria Charter School.

After attending other schools through eighth grade, I chose to attend Catalyst Maria for my four years of high school. I am so grateful that I had that choice. There could not have been a more warm, welcoming, and supportive environment for me to grow up in. Catalyst Maria gave me so many opportunities both inside and outside of the classroom that helped to make me into the thriving young adult I am today.

At Catalyst Maria, I realized I wanted to work with young students which led me to my dream of attending college to study early childhood education so that I could return home to my community at Catalyst Maria to teach there one day.

Catalyst Maria supported me with my college applications and scholarship applications. Before I graduated, I was accepted into Northern Illinois University. I received scholarships so I didn’t have to worry about money while juggling a full load of college classes. While so many of my peers at NIU worried every day about money, I had a plan and finished my first year debt-free thanks to Catalyst. Not too many college students can say that.

Now, Catalyst Maria welcomed me home with open arms, as I’ve been working as a teaching assistant intern while I’m home on summer break.

I am also grateful that my younger brother attends Catalyst Maria too. He’s in the elementary school and has an IEP. While so many adults see his differences as a “challenge,” his teachers at Catalyst Maria have always seen him for the unique and talented student that he is. His teachers care about him and don’t try to fit him into a “perfect student” box.

Like so many of us, he struggled with the initial switch to remote learning last year. But his teachers worked so hard to make sure that he (and his peers) had all the support that they needed to keep learning.