Creating a Legacy

Ryan in the classroom


“All their life our students were told ‘No, they couldn’t do that.’ I want to give our parents (and students) the experience they didn’t get at other schools,” Ryan Peterson, a Key School educator, said. Ryan knows first-hand the experience Key School parents face daily. Her oldest son is on the Autism Spectrum and from an early age, doctors said he wouldn’t be able to ride a bike, read a book, finish high school or go to college. He proved them wrong on all fronts graduating in 2021 from Stephen F. Austin State University.

“I had to advocate for him. We had to figure out what worked for him and make that happen,” she said. Through her own children and 17+ years of working in education, she learned, “Not everything works for all kids. If it doesn’t click for one, it may for another.”

Ryan joined Key School in 2017. She was able to immediately translate her personal and professional experience into working with Key School students.In 2021, Key School had a need for College and Career staff to teach Pathways. Ryan had been through this before with her own three kids and immediately took on the role. And she succeeded. In her first year, all six of her students were accepted into the college of their choice and received $340,000 in scholarships.

“Three of those students were told they were never going to go to college. Now they are on the Dean’s List at their respective colleges. Any of our kids can go to college.”

Through Ryan’s work with the Pathways class, she helps students with college testing, writing essays for scholarships, applications, and all of the myriad activities that go with going to college.

“Much like our academic instruction for our students, we differentiate for our students as they begin to explore the post-high school career and college paths,” Ryan said. “The key thing is we teach them how to advocate for themselves.”

Ryan has created a legacy of success that will continue to translate to successful experience for our students.