Grace Kutchma

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Grace Kutchma Photo - CopyGrace Kutchma

Grace Kutchma is a very sweet and shy 19 year old young lady that was referred to the Madison County E-Learning program by her counselor at Alton High School. When she came into the office, she was a very confused young lady that had recently taken the wrong path. Her mother and school counselors were concerned with the choices Grace was making. Grace had dropped out of high school with only two classes to go before she could graduate. School was no longer important to her, and her future was not looking good. That’s when she was introduced to the E-Learning program at Madison County.

With only two classes to go, it seemed as though it should be an easy fix to take two online classes. However one of the classes was a Speech class. You might ask, how does one take an online speech class? A special class would have to be developed for this situation and speeches given in front of office staff. A couple classes were combined to guide Grace through lessons on how to give speeches. Then Grace would have to give speeches in front of an audience. That was a biggest problem; Grace was terrified, shy and didn't think she could give a speech in front of a group of people.

With her mother’s help, we convinced Grace she could do the class, and it would be over almost as soon as she started. After she learned she had to give four speeches, she wanted to quit before getting started. We can all remember the fears of public speaking in front of peers the first time we tried it. However, she would have to do it in front of adults that she was sure would judge her too harshly. 

The first couple times Grace was scheduled to do the speech, she was so scared she cancelled. Finally, after well applied pressure, she came in for her first speech. She was the most adorably terrified young lady to ever give a speech in front of the county staff members. She was trembling all over and could not stand still, wiggling like an anxious child trying to escape their first encounter with Santa. She read straight from her notes, occasionally looking at her mother as if to ask to be rescued, and her teacher with a glare of discontent. After the longest three minutes in her life, Grace had completed her first speech. Only three more to go.

The next few speeches were better, longer and Grace was more comfortable. The last speech she gave was about her mother, grandfather, plants and the special role they play in her family’s life. This was Grace’s best speech by far, and the wiggling and reading from her notes were things of the past. Grace had become a pro at giving speeches.

Grace has since completed all of her graduation requirements, received her diploma, and is in her second semester of college, where she is studying animal science. Grace also has a job at a fine dining restaurant and doing well in life and school. School is now important to her now, and speeches are not so bad after all. 

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