Gilbert started his senior year of high school unsure that he’d ever make it out. No one else in his family had graduated, and he was certain that he’d follow the same path. In fact, he didn’t just start the year in this way – he nearly ended it believing he couldn’t graduate. Djuana, one of the teachers working with Gilbert on his capstone project, saw his discouragement. She pulled him aside and showed him how very close he actually was to graduating. It was a perspective and a hope he’d never been granted. But he believed her. He believed in himself. And became Tennyson’s first high school graduate in history in May of 2019.
Uncertainty is a part of every school year. Kids and families spend time school shopping for new clothes, school supplies, and the kids spend nights dreaming about new friends and how they will fit in to their new classes. But uncertainty and fear are especially true for families this year. Many of the kids and families we are serving are starting new schools for yet another time. They might be facing learning remotely, or still feel uncertain about what school will look like at all. Last spring’s class of seven graduates overcame the challenges of COVID-19 and isolation to finish high school. The care, customized approach to learning, and heart of our teachers smoothed the way – but their work wouldn’t be possible without the massive community of advocates, donors, volunteers, and caring neighbors who build a net of safety and support around these kids.
We face similar challenges as school kicks off on campus this week – and we feel stronger than ever in the face of those challenges.
One thing our families can definitely count on is that our staff will do all that we can to help them feel prepared. Tennyson Center is committed to doing all that we can to make these families feel proud and confident as they head into the next school year. We have partnered with A Precious Child and Heritage Title Company to provide new backpacks and school supplies for families – and we are so grateful for partners like them! The Community Based Services team has organized a drive-up celebration to include not just school supplies but also snacks, home-school tools, and more.
On campus, teachers are busy planning ways to meet the educational needs of all of our Residential kids as well as our Day Treatment students – with new referrals coming in daily. Many of these students will continue to utilize distance learning, but teachers are finding creative ways to meet with these students and help them continue to stay strong in their healing journeys. We have worked hard since the onset of COVID-19 to provide technology and internet access to ALL families and clients we serve to ensure that kids can keep learning and families can continue therapy.
We are committed to serving as many children as possible in this new school year and will continue to be responsive and nimble in the face of challenges. We know our kids, families, staff, and community possess the grit and compassion to overcome anything.
You can bolster the strength of our students by donating to Tennyson Giving Day 2020! Thanks to the generosity of the Bunneys – longtime, dedicated Tennyson supporters – the first $10,000 in donations will be matched! Help us close the gap to $19,960 here.
Above: (left) Antonia Garza holds a remote learning session with a student, (middle) a group of Community Based Services clinicians delivers backpacks to students – thanks to A Precious Child!, (right) Heidi Maijub teaches life skills during a remote therapy session.