Northwest AEA recently received a letter from a parent whose son attends grade school at the Sioux Center Middle School. The story, in their own words, is a great testimony to the success that can be discovered when parents, school staff and Northwest AEA staff collaborate to find solutions to help children succeed. (We have changed the student's name to protect his identity):

Let’s talk about Joey. Joey is in the fifth grade at the Sioux Center Middle School. He has completed the first half of the school year with just a few bumps in the road. He also received all B’s on his report card this semester!

Now, let’s talk about what got him to this place. Joey started out in a neighboring school district as a kindergartner and did pretty well. First grade was a different story. Things started getting a little more difficult, but we won’t go into all of that detail. You can read his file, which we are sure is as big as the Sioux Falls phone book!

After a bunch of different placements, ranging from home schooling all the way to a behavioral room in a different district, we decided this problem was bigger than his parents could solve themselves. Joey became a resident of Children’s Home Society (CHS) in Sioux Falls. This was made possible with the help of the Sioux Center School District and Northwest AEA. This was a long and sometimes painful journey. The staff at CHS was one of the keys to Joey’s success, as well as the Sioux Center Kinsey and Northwest AEA staff.  In order for Joey to experience success, all these people had to work together.  

Well, he did earn his way out of CHS and back into the public school system. He entered the fourth grade at Kinsey in January. This transition was not easy for him or the people around him. It took the determination and caring attitude from such persons as: Mr. Mars, Mrs. Achterhoff, Mr. Menning and Mrs. Reimersma.

Now with the first semester behind us, Joey continues to settle into a routine and understands what it takes to be successful. This would not have been possible without a lot of planning and support. The middle school staff has been wonderful beyond description! Mr. Ellis has become a great friend and someone Joey trusts to go to when he is feeling anxious. Mrs. Schley gives Joey the structure and follow through he absolutely needs to function. Mrs. Franken has a kind heart and a willingness to listen. All of Joey’s teachers are patient and understanding.  

When we sat at Joey’s discharge meeting at CHS, they told us he was one of the toughest kids they had ever seen. Joey was a kid screaming for help, not knowing what was wrong with him. The determination and care of a great number of people has created nothing less than a miracle. Joey, who was once kicked out of numerous schools, is now a somewhat subdued, charming young man. We understand that Joey’s education is far from finished, but now he is equipped with the tools he needs to cope with problems.  

Thanks to all the people involved with Joey’s education—he would not be here without you!