Jordan Toma is a motivational influencer whose slogan is “I’m Just A Kid With An IEP.” An individualized education plan is a program that describes the special education instruction, support and services that students with disabilities are entitled to receive.
Although he struggled with learning disabilities as a young student, Toma, now 33, travels to schools to share his story and encourage students to work toward success. According to his website, www.jordantoma.com, he has made it his life’s goal to share everything he did to change his life from what he thought it would be to what he has made it.
His goal is to help students create a foundation of belief, confidence, work ethic and everything in between to become the best they can be.
“My life has been a roller coaster with learning disabilities,” he wrote on his website. “That term dominated my life throughout school in a very bad way. It devastated my confidence, my self-esteem, my self-worth, my awareness.
“Back then, I did not know my struggle was my strength. I constantly compared myself to everyone around me – friends, family, my parents, even people I didn’t know. I felt I would never amount to anything in life, that they were all better than me, smarter than me, more normal than me, could do more than me. I let that define me, my mood, my attitude, my feelings.
“In my mind the term ‘learning disability’ became a label plastered on my shirt for everyone to see, laugh at and know I was different. I always felt I was not as good as everyone else, and I never would be.”
After graduating from high school in 2008, Centenary University, located in Hackettstown, New Jersey, accepted Toma into its “Step Ahead” program.
“I remember when I moved into the Centenary University dorm that summer, filled with fear and anxiety, I went into the bathroom, looked at myself in the mirror, and promised I was going to change. I was going to change my life and that name tag that had dominated me up to this point,” he wrote. “From that day forward, I stopped being who I thought I was and started becoming who I am.”
Toma’s presentation at Parents Night at Dixon High School will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the James A. Wiltz Auditorium, 300 Lincoln Statue Drive, Dixon. The event is open to the public.
The presentation is sponsored by Dixon Public Schools and Lee County Special Education.