November 27, 2023 Inst Asst 3/Special Ed—–Westridge Inst Asst 3/Extra...
At the recent PCSD kick-off meeting, the audience was pleased to welcome Keira Scholz as the guest speaker.
Keira Scholz was born in 1988 and grew up in a poor family in Provo, Utah where she encountered abuse, drugs, prostitution, family separation, and profound poverty. She attended the following Provo elementary schools: Joaquin, Westridge, Provost, and Sunset View. As a teenager, she became a runaway and entered foster care. Because of this, she attended Provo, Timpview, and Orem high schools, and graduated in 2006 from Spanish Fork High School. Keira eventually made her way to Utah Valley University where she was an Outstanding Student graduating with honors in Psychology. She was the first in her family to graduate from High School and University. She founded The Provo Promise scholarship in 2016 for children who are residents of Provo to provide them with an opportunity to receive a college education.Keira is married to Nicholas Scholz, and together they have three sons.
As Superintendent Keith Rittel stated at the meeting, “Keira’s story is a Provo story. It is a story about resiliency, tenacity and a willingness to struggle through challenging times. It is also a story about service, community and a willingness to give of ourselves. In many ways I am sure, Keira’s story is why many of us in this room choose to teach.”
Keira was able to share her story with the audience and expressed her gratitude for Provo City School District and the teachers in helping raise her. She shared some excerpts from her memoir, entitled “How the Light Gets In”, which included the following:
- “My memories of my school and home lives are utterly separated from one another, and to a certain degree, unlinkable. My life in school was dreamy and perfect, and my life at home was troubled and fearful. They were two worlds; two lives that rarely intersected. I felt safer in the walls of my school than I did in the walls of my own house.
- “Sometimes I asked to go to the bathroom during class time just to wander the quiet halls without fear. I would stop and read every plaque, examine every picture, and run my fingers against the walls to feel the texture of painted cement brick. I trusted doors that locked. I looked out windows and only saw blue skies or Christmas snow–no dingy parked cars…no televisions spewing unwholesome stories, no adults who didn’t belong. Everyone had a name, a job, and a reason for being there. There were clearly defined rules and even clearer values of kindness and learning. Everything had a place. Things made sense. Adults could be trusted, and they came back day after day.
- “… There were some years when my only friends were the teachers. Some spent their lunch hours listening to me. Later, school counselors became my confidants. Librarians reminded me of my Granny as we talked. They were introverted, and I treasure the beautiful worlds they shared with me. They showed me how to turn inward.
- “…School kept me wholesome and hopeful. It was like stepping into a fairy tale for hours every day. It made me realize that the problems I associated with my life at home were not permanent or intractable. I aspired to be a teacher….Teachers attended college. I knew that my mother hadn’t been to college. It didn’t occur to me that this should stop me from wanting to go, so my dream was born. I wanted to go to college like my teachers had. I wanted to be smart, and helpful, and share a heart of gold like they did.” (Pages 52-54).
As Keira shared her moving story, there was not a dry eye in the auditorium. Teachers were able to be reminded of the powerful impact that their job has. As our district theme for this year is “Why I Teach”, this provided an incredible transition into the introduction of the theme to the audience.
Thank you Keira for your presentation and powerful impact you left on our school district. To learn more about “The Provo Promise” scholarship that Keira founded, visit The Provo Promise website.