Josh Edwards Goes Back to School With Enthusiasm and Style
There’s a feeling of excitement at the Karen Lane group home in Monroe, but not for the reason you might expect. While many young adults are savoring the last weeks of summer, Josh Edwards is looking forward to classes this fall at South Piedmont Community College.
“I like to read the books, and write papers,” said Josh. “I write about the Carolina Panthers and the Tar Heels. And I get to see my friends,” said Edwards.
The Harry Potter book series is one of his favorites, as well as math, science and art subjects. It’s not all work and no play though. Edwards keeps up with his friends and his favorite sports. He even coordinates his newest clothes for school to match the colors of his top teams. Just like most other students, the back-to-school fun and excitement starts at the mall.
“He was all over that mall! We went to a few different stores to find his shoes. He knew I had the red Nike shoes and he wanted them, but we found the blue ones. He likes the blues ones more because of the Tar Heels,” said Sametreous Tillman, developmental specialist at Monarch.
It was also a lesson in money management, another responsibility that Josh gets just as excited about.
“He wanted Jordan’s, but I told him, save your money because then we can come back and get more shoes. Then you can say you bought your own shoes. I remember the first time I bought something on my own, that pride. I think those are the kinds of things we should nurture in all the people we support,” said Tillman.
Edwards and Tillman are the same age, with Edwards turning 25 just a couple months before Tillman. She says the days when she can join him on campus are fun, but she also tries to give him as much independence as possible. Edwards is the youngest person supported in his home, which makes it all the more important for him to go to school and socialize with others his age.
“I think Josh has come out of his shell a lot since being able to interact with people other than the staff here and the people he lives with. He communicates better and I think he seems happier overall. His friends from school even call him on the phone,” said Tillman.
Edwards graduated from nearby Parkwood High School in Monroe, and while that was an accomplishment, the staff at Karen Lane say they noticed a greater sense of enthusiasm when he found out he could go to college.
“He went to high school and graduated, but it seemed like when he was able to go to college it was a major thing to him,” said Julia Peay, residential team lead at Monarch. “It was a step up for him and he’s doing really great. He loves school, he’s overwhelmed with excitement when he’s there.”
Edwards continues to take classes through much of the summer, so his backpack is already filled with supplies and projects. In just a few short weeks, new projects will come up and new friends will be waiting on campus.
Photo 1: Josh Edwards and Monarch Developmental Specialist Sametreous Tillman show off their new kicks.
Photo 2: Josh Edwards color coordinates his new school wardrobe to match the colors of his favorite teams.