Jonathan Marhaba is the youngest son of TJF's founder and President, Raja Marhaba. A gifted performer, Jonathan attended Moorpark College after completing high school. While at Moorpark, he participated in several productions put on by the Theater Arts Department. In 2014, Jonathan graduated from Moorpark College with a 3.9 grade point average and an Associate's degree in 2014. In addition to being a member of the Board, Jonathan is actively involved in his family's construction business as he manages several projects. He also continues to mentor children, teens and young adults with special needs in an effort to help them to better understand what they are going through and show them they are not alone, that their disability is not a disability but a “gift”.
“He will never graduate high school.” This was the stigma surrounding my struggles throughout school as an individual with severe dyslexia. Even with such discouragement, I was able to cope with my learning challenges, graduate high school, and sustain a 4.0 grade point average at a college level in spite of having a reading fluency equivalent to a fifth grader. My story and success formed the roots of The Jonathan Foundation and the necessity of its existence. The effort put forth by my mother and the hardships my family was forced to endure is something no family should have to go through. There is no reason why a mother should have to watch her son drop two grade levels in reading in one semester before she would be “allowed” to obtain services from a school district. As a result of this domino effect, my reading fluency dropped to a 1st grade level as I transitioned into the 7th grade. All this was because the school district exploited our lack of knowledge in order to prevent giving me the proper services. With my self-esteem extremely low, it was my final placement in a nonpublic school during 7th Grade, surrounded by people who cared about and understood me, and most important, who believed in me, that I credit for educational success. The services I received, the result of winning the fight against the school district, allowed me to develop into the person I am today. There are so many factors that ensure the success of someone with a disability or "a gift", which is the way I look at my dyslexia.
The difference people made in my personal experience as well as how that played a crucial role in my success, is why I want to give that opportunity to others. The world of special education needs people that are willing to work hard to make a difference. That difference is what drives me to help the many people others overlook.
Through his work with The Jonathan Foundation, Jonathan has been able to make a similar difference in the lives of others dealing with challenges due to their disability. Receiving confirmation of his efforts through the reported success stories from individuals he mentors and speaks with, such as the following note: “Where can I ever begin or end to say thank you? I have been blessed to have your help. My life was changed because of you.”
He believes such results, in the continually misunderstood world of special education, are priceless.