Kids who are battling health issues in a hospital often lose valuable time in the classroom. But at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, teachers are working to keep students on track in school.
In 2014, the hospital opened Shining Star School to address those needs.
“They have a very haphazard education,” explained the program’s teacher, Brenda Wilson. “Sometimes they're at school, sometimes they're here. Sometimes they have to be home bound. It’s crazy for them. It’s very inconsistent.”
To find some consistency, Shining Stars School identifies the kids who are school aged, between five and 18 years old, and who spend more than three days at a time in the hospital.
“Sometimes they need tutoring, sometimes they need somebody to help them contact the school -- just get in touch, let them know what’s going on,” Wilson explained.
Wilson serves as a liaison between multiple schools districts and their curriculum. Some days, her students stick to a strict lesson plan. Other days, especially when they aren’t feeling well, they play simple games or read books.
“One of my very first patients was an oncology patient and the school's attitude was -- he'll just do his freshman year over,” she remembered.
“His family and I worked hard to not let that happen. I taught him core credits from his freshman year of high school while he was on 4 North (cancer inpatient unit) getting treatment. And he was able to move onto his sophomore year.”
One student, 13-year-old Dayvin Jones, said he loves to read and always looks forward to the book cart Wilson pushes through the hospital hallways. He doesn’t always want to study, but says his mother and teacher tell him how important it is.
“If I do good I can get good grades and my teacher can say -- ‘This kids is super smart!’” he said. “And if I continue doing good, I can probably go to college and I can get a diploma.”
Shining Star School recently got an updated classroom inside the hospital, complete with wall-length book shelves. Donations made to support the school provide educational materials, computers and support for teachers.