Clutching shopping lists and forgetting their trailing I.V. poles for at least a few minutes, patients did some back to school time shopping at Children’s Medical Center on Aug. 14.
School Services hosted its fifth Back to School Fair in the Butterfly Atrium at the hospital setting up the event like a warehouse store with tables piled high with stacks of notebooks and packs of pencils.
While some of the patients might not be entering traditional classrooms when school starts at the end of the month, there’s no chance they will fall behind in their studies thanks to Children’s School Services.
Kelly Ihejiawu, Children’s School Services pediatric education manager, explains that depending on the patient’s length of stay at the hospital, School Services assesses the needs of each patient and coordinates either tutoring or home schooling while working closely with Dallas ISD and Plano ISD or with the child’s home district, even if it’s out of state.
It doesn’t end there. When the child is ready to leave the hospital and head back to school, Children’s helps make the transition back to the classroom as smooth as possible, too.
We are Children’s teachers who serve the patients and do a whole lot of other things.
“We make sure that anything that we’ve done here at the hospital, if it is educationally relevant, that the school district can duplicate that for them,” said Ihejiawu.
Brooke Soard, Children’s School Services teacher, says, the annual Back to School “event has a dual purpose to provide information, school supplies and snacks to patients at Children’s, but it also lets us advertise who we are and what we do. A lot of people think we are Dallas teachers that serve the patients, but actually we are Children’s teachers who serve the patients and do a whole lot of other things.”
Typically, eight to 10 students are enrolled at any given time during the school year.
A coordinated effort
Soard said that one case stands out in her memory because coordinating this particular patient’s education involved Translation, Social Work, Child Life, School Services and Dallas ISD officials all working together.
The patient was at Children’s for a liver transplant and only spoke Burmese. “That was a bit of a challenge, because there aren’t that many translators who speak Burmese,” Soard learned.
“It took a whole lot of coordinating in the midst of her getting a liver transplant,” Soard said. But eventually, all the groups worked to get the child enrolled in school and arranged for home schooling during her recovery from a successful transplant.