May 21, 2013

NWGCCA: Porter pushes past obstacles

Rachel Brown
rachelbrown@daltoncitizen.com

— Ethan Porter has been an inspiration to students and teachers alike.

That’s according to Northwest Georgia College and Career Academy counselor Wendy Hanson, who said Porter has been an “exceptional student.”

“Because of his disabilities, he has had to miss many days of school for medical issues and surgeries,” Hanson said. “Through it all, he has maintained a 3.1 GPA (grade point average) and excelled as a dual enrollment student at Georgia Northwestern Technical College.”

Porter said he began having to use a wheelchair after a surgery to relax his tight hamstrings didn’t work. Porter said doctors don’t know what caused him to have the problems with his legs, but the tightness — so severe he couldn’t straighten his legs all the way — and post-surgery were both painful. He had to miss several months from school.

During that time, teacher Ben Williams came to the hospital to go over his work with him, he said. He also credits Karen Corley with his success for her help in getting him caught up.

Porter said he was in so much pain after the surgery, he wasn’t even thinking about how his life would change with having to be in a wheelchair. He had to attend a pain management clinic in Atlanta, but he was finally able to return to school. Once he did, he was excited.

He had chosen to attend the Career Academy after school representatives visited his class at Westside Middle School to pitch to the students a curriculum in project-based learning. The learning method allows students to do more hands-on activities than in a traditional school. Porter said he loved his school experience.

He stayed at the Career Academy for his freshman and sophomore years, but when Coahulla Creek High School opened his junior year and began immediately accepting any student who wanted to transfer there, Porter decided to check out the new campus and follow the project-based learning curriculum as it moved away from the Career Academy. Deciding he preferred the comfort of his old school, he returned for his senior year.

Porter graduates with at least eight college credit hours under his belt and is well on his way to becoming a phlebotomy technician — a medical professional who draws blood. Career Academy students have the option of enrolling at Georgia Northwestern, which shares space in the Career Academy campus. Through the opportunity, Porter took certified nursing assistant and medical terminology classes.

He plans to finish getting his phlebotomy license after graduation and possibly continue his schooling at Dalton State College to become a laboratory technician.

“I like the health care field, and I had to base my (decision) on what I can do with my disability,” Porter said. “I liked radiology, but I became interested in pathology with the whole blood and physics and stuff.”

Porter was raised by his mother, Virginia Bolden, and foster parent, Paula Phillips. He has two older sisters. He was a member of Health Occupational Students of America during his time in school, and he loves hanging out with friends, seeing nature and going to parks during his spare time.

His favorite subject is science, and his least favorite is math. Asked what advice he would give to struggling students, Porter said they shouldn’t drop out.

“High school goes by fast,” he said. “All you have to do is keep a 70 (grade point average). Keep your head up and keep going. It will be over before you know it.”

Hanson said Porter has been a pleasure to have in school.

“Ethan has an engaging personality and is always surrounded by friends,” she said. “He has taught us all many lessons about perseverance, reaching goals and being the absolute best you can be.”

Graduation: Career Academy students will receive diplomas along with students from their respective home schools — Coahulla Creek, Northwest Whitfield or Southeast Whitfield — on those schools’ graduation dates. Career Academy students will have a graduation party today. Coahulla Creek students have commencement on Friday at the school at 7 p.m.