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From second-grade reading level to 'Outstanding Student of the Year'

Shani Page was 16 when she dropped out of high school.

“My grades were bad,” she said. “My attendance was bad. The teachers ain’t have no faith in me. So I came here.”

Her mother brought her to Buffalo Public School Adult Education Division's Career Collegiate Institute, housed in an old school on St. Lawrence Avenue.

Her assessment tests put her at a second-grade reading level. That was tough to hear.

“It was hard,” she said. “I was actually good in reading.”

She started in a Level 1 class and began to excel.

“I was just focused on school,” she said. She liked the smaller classes and the encouragement she got from her teachers.

Three years later, she had her diploma.

Page, now 19, has a job at a food court at the University at Buffalo and she’s hoping to go to college to learn more culinary skills and start her own soul food-themed food truck.

Last year, she was honored to be picked as an Outstanding Student of the Year by the New York Association of Community and Continuing Education. “It felt good,” she said. “I didn’t know I was going to get picked out of everybody in the state.”

For some job seekers, reading and math classes must come first