Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

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January 7, 2013

Column: THE CAREER PLANNING ACADEMY: Before she died, hard-boiled educator Dr. Edith Marie "Mimi" Pewitt raised troubled young minds and transformed the lives of many Fort Worth ISD students

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FORT WORTH —

Transitioning there wasn't easy. This tunnel I spoke about was a kind of trauma. I had trouble talking to people or even looking them in the eye when I first came to CPA.

I was pretty much a zombie during classes; during lunch I would sit in the front office rather than interact with the other students. This went on for quite awhile.

Then things started to change. One day in the front office, I noticed Dr. Pewitt in the hallway looking at me with a concerned expression on her face. She was standing next to our guidance counselor, talking to him. She nodded at him, he nodded at her, and the next thing I knew I was in the counselor's office being gently encouraged to make new friends.

Dr. Pewitt never talked to me directly about my solitude, but I always felt her presence.

One of the interesting aspects of this very, very small school is we would have occasional group sessions during which we would discuss our problems with a licensed counselor.

One day during one of those sessions, my counselor asked me point blank why I never came out of the office at lunch. I had no answer, but it was around that time I felt something inside me start to thaw. The staff here wasn't rushing me, but they were definitely starting to draw me out of my shell. And it was working.

Each time a teacher or staff member would ask — in a matter-of-fact manner — if I wanted to go outside with the other students at lunch, I would feel myself moving closer to the door to the school yard.

One day, I blinked and found myself outside. I was talking to students and making new friends.

That day, I became fast friends with a girl named Toby and her boyfriend, the aforementioned Danny. My friendship with the two of them meant a lot. I also started talking to Jana, a pretty redhead on whom I had a massive crush. (But, like Charlie Brown, I just didn't have any luck with redheads.)

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