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Graduate Autumn Carlucci Highlighted in the Sullivan County Democrat

Made in Sullivan County: Autumn Carlucci

Jan 11, 2019

By Joana Duffy-Dutcher - contributor

 

By: CONTRIBUTED PHOTOFrom left, Yolanda, Autumn and Anthony Carlucci in their home in Barryville. Autumn Carlucci is currently writing a book about her struggles to achieve her diploma.

Helen Keller once said, “If I regarded my life from the point of view of the pessimist, I should be undone … a prey to fear and despair. But since I consider it a duty to myself and to others to be happy, I escape a misery worse than any physical deprivation.”

As a person who has thrived, despite my own learning challenges, I know that Helen Keller would be very proud of Autumn Carlucci. Carlucci is a 2018 graduate of Sullivan County BOCES, from the Eldred Central School District. She is a young lady that knows a lot about overcoming obstacles. In her early years, Carlucci was diagnosed with a learning disability and a processing delay. 

Academics did not come easily. The teachers, administration, and guidance counselors of the Eldred school district worked with Carlucci and her parents to create an IEP (Individual Education Plan) that would assist her in becoming successful. Carlucci has great advocates in her parents, Yolanda and Anthony Carlucci. 

“Parents need to advocate for their children,” Yolanda stated. “Parents need to do the research and ask the questions. A child has no better advocate than his/her parent(s).” 

Autumn also credits the advocacy of Ms. Roxanne Kehrley, special education teacher at Eldred, with teaching her that “whatever you are going through, keep going.”

Unfortunately, Carlucci would come to know more obstacles. In 2011, she was diagnosed with brain cancer and had to have surgery to remove an Ependymoma brain tumor. Her struggles surmounted after surgery as her processing slowed down; more than the original delay. She couldn't retain new information even when it came to the subjects she used to strive in. The Eldred staff modified the IEP to allow her to be in smaller classes with two teachers for most subjects. “Eldred did all that they could,” Yolanda said.

Fortunately, a light was about to shine on Carlucci and her family. 

Carlucci transferred to Sullivan County BOCES. BOCES has small classes; no more than 8 students per teacher and teaching assistant. “BOCES teaches each student at the level that they are at,” Carlucci said.  Even though BOCES allowed Carlucci to work at her level, she still struggled with self-doubt and PTSD. “I wanted to drop out, but there were teachers, and staff members, that pushed me to keep going,” stated Carlucci. BOCES teacher, Mrs. LaRuffa, started Carlucci on the path to achieving her diploma. “Considering what I went through my entire life, I accomplished great things. My goal was to attain my diploma. It took me longer than most, but I did it!”

Carlucci holds onto three values she learned at BOCES…keep pushing; don't give up; stay in contact. Paul Maopolski, pre-tech teacher at BOCES, was a huge influence on her. Maopolski taught Carlucci not to drop out of school. He taught her to keep pushing and pursuing her dream of attaining her diploma. Carlucci has some words of wisdom for students similar to her. “Children with disabilities should be accepted for who they are and not what someone thinks they should be. Accept yourself and don't give up,” she said. Carlucci carries those words with her every day. She did not give up. She pushed through and says she will keep pushing through. Currently, Carlucci is writing a book about her struggles. She hopes that her story can “inspire others to conquer their challenges and advocate for themselves and others.” 

Carlucci wants to thank the staff at BOCES, her true friends that were there for her, and her family. “I hope to someday make an impact on them.”