Shannon Lillian Lake looks much younger than her age (which is something that bothers her). She's behind her mainstream classmates by two years, having undergone surgery several times which kept her from school.
Shannon was born with some serious medical problems. It was a long time before she could leave the hospital, and when she was stronger, she needed surgery to correct an opening in her throat. She grew slowly, but she was strong and coped well with health and physical set backs keeping her from maintaining her place in school with others with Special Needs.
She's a soft spoken, thoughtful young girl whose hobbies include a love for music, listening to books on tape, and going to movies. She especially enjoys love stories and good animation.
Shannon has had many hurdles to overcome, most noticeably her difficulty with learning to read and write. She does, however, have a surprising affinity for mathematics and a wicked sense of humor.
Shannon has a strong personality. She can be stubborn and moody, but generally she's positive with the determination to overcome all obstacles - to the best of her ability. She has great affection for her older brother Blair who's always been there to protect her from bullies and others who didn't understand why she was different. Her parents are supportive and give her every opportunity to do things for and by herself. She knows she will never drive, and taking the bus for Shannon is a major effort. Familiar faces of kids she knows, who are understanding and helpful, keep her focused and able to travel to school on her own.
With the wisdom that comes from living a life apart from the "mainstream", Shannon can forgive and forget some of the cruel things said and done to her. Her maturity and strong sense of humour is an endearing surprise to teachers and to those who get to know her well. She pulls no punches, says what she thinks, and can defend herself verbally with wit and sarcasm. One great hurdle to overcome is handling the feeling of being excluded. Others around her talk openly about going to movies, parties and hanging out. She is not invited, and it hurts.
Her family is solid and supportive, but a girl in her teens is finding her own way and needs friends her own age. Teasing is something she learned to handle in kindergarten and it hasn't ended there.
For every insensitive person who taunts her for being different, Shannon knows many others who would come to her defense. Helping her with her studies this year is education assistant Pat and teachers in her Special Needs class of seven kids provide experience and good instruction, geared toward giving every student the necessary tools that will lead to independence.
She knows her ability to understand, to cope and to process all she experiences will help her to help others some day.
For now, Shannon's most urgent concerns are learning to read, and being accepted for who she is. Who she is, is something she's quickly discovering as she integrates with mainstream students like April Patterson. April in return is learning new things about her own world, her friends and her perceptions of others.
Shannon is an exceptional young woman. She's a surprise package waiting to be opened!