Tag Archives: The Caroline School

Caregivers AKA…the Best Advocates

Hi, this is my son Joshua. Joshua entered into the public school system at the age of four. He was in a regular pre-2014 Caroline L Thomsonkindergarten classroom. At the age of five he was diagnosed with Autism. Joshua was placed in the special education program known as PPCD. The following year because of his age, he was introduced to the program known as Life Skills. During his time in the public school system we have experienced so much pain, heartache, stress, and worry concerning our child. In spite of my advocacy, nothing changed.  I was at the end of my rope by his 5th grade school year. I made a promise to myself that if things didn’t get better his last year in elementary school that I had to find a private school for him. So much happened with my son in his 2011-2012 school years, that I had to pull him out before the year ended.

I began searching for a school that would meet my son’s learning and safety needs. I wanted him around caring teachers and staff. Yes, my son was turned away from a number of private schools, because of his lack of verbal communication. Most of the schools never got a chance to even meet my son or evaluate him before turning him away. Then we found Easter Seals Greater Houston’s Caroline School.  I’m so grateful for The Caroline School. Once I turned in the paperwork, a half day of school was set up right away. The teachers and staff were able to work with him and get a chance to see the needs and skills he already had and what he needed help with. If it wasn’t for the acceptance of The Caroline School I had no other options, but to home school my child. I couldn’t take anymore heartache and disappointment with the system. I know my child had taken all he could take also. I could see how it affected him, so I had to do all in my power to better this school situation. Thank you God for answering my prayers. Since my son has been a part of The Caroline School our whole life have changed. My son and I can trust the teachers and the staff. He is surrounded by loving, caring teachers and students. I know longer have to worry about the safety or well-being of my child. The teachers communicate with me what is being taught and give me helpful suggestions on things I work with him on at home. My son is very happy here at The Caroline School. Even though he can’t communicate his happiness with words, I can see it in him. His demeanor is very calm. I am very happy and pleased to know that he can go to school and actually like being there.  All of the fears, worries, and the “what ifs” are no longer part of my life. I can breathe. No more tears. It comforts me as a parent with a special needs child. I can’t express how pleased I am with the teachers, assistants, and staff. Thank you for all you do, Thompson

*During this season of thanks and during National Caregivers month, ESGH staff are particularly proud and honored to work with the most amazing parents and caregivers! Thank YOU for doing all YOU do!

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The Gift of Our Staff

Amazingly enough …or not because we love Easter Seals Greater Houston! …our average staff tenure is more than five years! With the exception of one senior staff member (and she’s close!), all greta pictureof our program directors have been here 11+ years, most over 18! That speaks volumes for our mission, staff, families, and clients.  Here are some thoughts by our two most tenured staff. Our Office/IT Manager and a dearly loved Physical Therapist.

We-heart-ESGHMy name is Greta Cherry and I am a Physical Therapist here at Easter Seals. I have been an employee for 42 happy and rewarding years. I started working here two weeks after graduation from the UTMB School of Physical Therapy. From the very first day when I was greeted by the receptionist Betty Hester with a beautiful smile up until now under the leadership of Elise Hough and Dena Day, I can truthfully  say I would not change any of my many experiences. I really love my job, having had the opportunities to grow and learn working with hundreds of children, families and professionals. What an awesome ride it has been for me. Because of the enthusiasm, support and love I have received over the years, it has been a wonderful place for me to work. I thought about retiring for several years, I even tried retirement for about one month, but really missed the people I work with and the interaction with children and families, so with the blessing of my bosses I came back to Easter Seals.IMG_2132

My name is Donald and in February 2015 I will be celebrating 40 years of employment with Easter Seals.  As I sit here contemplating  the many years, I cannot tell you what a wonderful journey it has been,  When I first  started with the then Cerebral Palsy Treatment Center, I cut the grass and was an aid in the Therapeutic Recreational Department.  Within six months I was the only employee in the Recreational program – what a learning experience!  The next thing I know I was trained to administer hearing tests on clients, as we had our own audiometer booth   Then I moved from there to office worker, HR Assistant Director, Adult Program Director and now Office and IT Manager. What an amazing life I have had over my 40 years, the fellow employees I have had the honor to call my friends, and all the wonderful clients I have worked with.  Easter Seals is a wonderful gift in my life.

Did you know that we were originally  founded in Houston in 1947 as a part of HISD – the school for children with cerebral palsy, before the laws were changed for public schools?  The original offices were where the new Legacy Community Healthcare building stands in Montrose.  Once the laws were changed the agency evolved into a therapeutic treatment center, has grown yearly and the last 10 years, by more than 10% each year.  Easter Seals Greater Houston now serves individuals with ALL types of disabilities, as well as their families. Through a staff of over 120+ professionals, we serve more than 8,000 families annually through direct services in Houston and surrounding counties and reach over 23,000 monthly through our program websites.

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Teacher’s Perspective

2014 verizon at adults groupThe Easter Seals Greater Houston Adult Services Program is a great way for the special needs adult to challenge themselves with lots of unique and different cristen march betsy_frankactivities. There is always a new activity going on- including yoga therapy, cooking classes, iPad classes, and even a ventriloquist show! By not only having a place for community and friendship, the adult program is a place they can really learn their own abilities with each activity offered.

caroline 7“Getting to spend time with the adults was such a joy for me because they each have such beautifully different personalities, each their own sense of humor and languages of love. It was so special to get to know each and every one of them this past summer when I was given the opportunity to spend time with twice a week.” One of my favorite memories with the adults was going to see Big the musical at Miller Outdoor Theater. Not only did I get to enjoy an awesome show with the adults and see their faces light up, but I got to watch and experience each and every one of their personalities when we sat down to eat lunch afterwards. They all are so full of life and laughter that it makes it contagious to be around! They are such a wonderful bunch of people who I couldn’t have been more thankful to have worked with this past summer.

– Katie App, teacher at the Caroline School, Easter Seals Greater Houston

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Walk…Then Run!

From Christina H., Michael’s mom and parent at the Caroline School – “We were honored this year that Michael was Ambassador Michael and famchosen to be one of the ambassadors for the Easter Seals Walk with Me Event.  Michael loves to be around people, and he was particularly excited this year to get to be one of the children to start the event.  He loves to be outdoors, and the walk through the zoo was the highlight of his weekend.  He was also very eager to introduce his little brother to his friends, teachers & the other families of the children of the Caroline School.  We are very grateful to Easter Seals Greater Houston & were so glad to be able caroline school michaelto help this wonderful organization raise funds.  Last year was the first time we participated in the event, and Michael struggled to walk the entire course and leave the zoo.  This year though, thanks to the efforts of his therapists at Easter Seals, he walked the entire three hours we were there without stopping! We know that every dollar raised is going towards helping children like Michael learn, grow & lead independent lives.  We were very glad to be able to give back even in a small way to an organization which has truly helped our family over the last two years.   Our family looks forward to participating in more events such as these in the years to come.”

And now along with a  host of other runners, Christina is running the Michael and dadChevron Houston Marathon through the Run For A Reason Program and ESGH is the beneficiary!  Check it out and let us know if you are interested in doing the same!

Christina Hendrickson, Caroline School Parent
Kelly Klein, Development Director

Support Christina – http://www.chevronhoustonmarathon.com/Donate/PersonalPage.cfm?MID=11950&CRID=37



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Caroline School Caped Crusaders!

Grayson and the Baker Family Caroline school famEaster Seals Greater Houston 3rd annual Walk With Me event was ARIANAheld this past weekend at the Houston Zoo. Overall, we had 2,000 walkers participate, raising over $215,000 for programs of Easter Seals Greater Houston. We are ecstatic about the turn out and how much we have been able to grow this event in just three years!  For more information check out http://www.walkwithmehouston.org.

Grayson Baker, a student at ESGH Caroline School, was one of our official Ambassadors.  His mother, Elizabeth, reflected back on their family time at the event.  “We were excited that Grayson was chosen as an Ambassador for the Walk this year. It was an honor to be part of the ribbon cutting and hear the crowd cheer the start of a fundraising event that will impact so many families, including ours, so positively. We had a great time walking through the zoo with our friends from the Caroline School and relaxing at the end of the route at the After-Party. Our family is so grateful to the Caroline School and Easter Seals for giving Grayson such positive experiences each day.”

Caroline Sch 3The “Caroline School Caped CrusadersWalk With Me Team recruited 32 walkers and raised over $12,000!

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Caroline School Loves Our Teachers!

598926_576373052382236_473731378_nLast night Anthony and I were talking about Caroline and he said, “she is no better, but not much worse.”  Just a bit droolier, and a bit droopier.  He then said, “Neuro-degenerative disease sucks.”  I agree.   All in all, in the world of regression we are pretty much holding our own.   She still gets in the pool every night.  We just leave that heater on, she can still play in the pool, she deserves to enjoy what little she can.   My friend Margaret teaches first grade and today she posted that she lost a little boy in the classroom next door.  He was chronically ill and just a little trooper.  All the kids loved him.

Can you imagine her day today, having to tell her classroom of first graders that a child, their age, had passed away.   The job of a teacher is so highly undervalued.  They, nurture, teach, support, push, empathize with, discipline, and love their students and get paid a very low salary for the privilege.   I was a teacher once upon a time, in the inner city no less, and it was the most rewarding job that there is.  I loved those kids.   If it weren’t for some of the teacher’s that I had, I have no idea where I would be,  let me name them for you:  Sister Patty, Mrs.  Sampson, Mrs. Boone,  Sister Storey, Mr. Bearce… those people taught me, hugged me, were kind to me, nurtured me, fussed at me.   God love them.   I still have a book that Sister Patty gave me in first grade in honor of my first communion.  The Velveteen Rabbit, she wrote something in the front cover that years and years later I reread, and it applied to beautifully to my struggles with Caroline.   How kind of her.
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I hope some of my students look back on me with kind thoughts.  I surely love the students at the Caroline School.  They are amazing.   Tomorrow Caroline goes back to school.  I kept her home today as I was worried about her getting out in the cold.  Oh how I will miss having her home with me all day.  I have enjoyed the heck out of xmas break and having that little monkey home with me.   I wish I could keep her here with me, but she loves school, and tomorrow is music day, you all know how she loves that music therapy.  Miss Ann is her favorite person in the whole world.
Well, I am off to bed,
E and super back to school C

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Back In Full Swing!

garrettarianaWhat a great 2012-2013 school year we had and what a great 2013-2014 it’s going to be!  The Caroline School finished its first year in our new space and we have grown with three classrooms and expanded to include a pilot summer program.  Our summer program took place during June and July.  Each week during the summer was a “summer theme” activity that correlated to a book and specific crafts.  While our main focus during the summer was to continue our strong academics we will also did other fun activities supaydench as music therapy, water play and yoga. We are looking forward to the 2013-2014 school year and all that it has to bring with fifteen current students, adding more and welcoming new staff Katie App, Teacher and Gigi Carter, Assistant!

Melissa Larson, Caroline School,
Easter Seals Greater Houston

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Schools Out for the Summer!…Not!

What a great 2012-2013 school year!  The Caroline School598926_576373052382236_473731378_n at Easter Seals Greater Houston is finishing its first year in    our new space and we have grown with three classrooms and have expanded to include a pilot summ228923_576373369048871_291501354_ner program.  Our summer program will take place during June and July.  Each week during the summer there will be a “summer theme” activity that correlates to a book and specific crafts.  While our main focus during the summer is to continue our strong academics we will also be63105_504791399540402_1170864112_n doing other fun activities such as music therapy, water play and yoga.

We are looking forward to the 2013-2014 school year!  Have a great summer!

Melissa Larson, Easter Seals G599629_576374119048796_1187056863_nreater Houston, The Caroline School

Based  on demand, the need to reestablish the Caroline School arose from the  issue of choice and making available an option for parents of children with significant disabilities who were/are seeking availability of a private  alternative to existing public school special education programs. The  focus is on meeting the physical, cognitive and social needs of the  child including available physical, occupational and speech therapy on  site (billed through Medicaid or private pay). Dependent on length of  child’s school day and child’s needs, tuition ranges between  $900-$2,500/monthly (scholarships and financial aid may be available).

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Back to School…biggger and better!

We are so excited! In just two years of operation as an Easter Seals Greater Houston Program, The Caroline School has expanded and grown into a much larger space with classrooms, therapy rooms and even a gated playground. Currently we have three classrooms that can hold up to 6 students with one teacher and at least one aide. We strive to keep our ratios low to be able to accommodate and meet the needs of all of our students with profound special needs. We are presently serving students ages 2-15.

The Caroline School serves a variety of students with special needs and pride ourselves on the fact that we are not a “cookie cutter” program. We use several specialized curriculum and incorporate numerous outside extracurricular activities through our other ESGH programs into our school day to meet the needs of our diverse students. Each student is unique and has different strengths. At The Caroline School we meet that need through our individualized school program. Students are able to do the same activities but the presentation is different for each student based on their individual needs and strengths. Our program and our students are very successful because we focus on each student to allow for them to have a successful school experience. By using a combination of curriculums, traditional and innovative therapies, in conjunction ESGH’s Children’s Therapy program, and such as music, art, and pet therapy as well as the use of ipads to reach educational outcomes and hiring staff with extensive experience working with children who have severe disabilities, we know we have built an exceptional program.

ESGH and Caroline School and the staff are honored to have had a great outpouring of community support, allowing us to make a great deal of progress this past year. A huge round of applause goes to the Petrello Family Foundation, the Hildebrand Foundation, Brenda and John Duncan, Elizabeth and Anthony DeLuca, Vivian Smith Foundation and the Duncan Family Foundation.

With their help and others we added music therapy, pet therapy and the use of technology such as ipads to reach the children with severe disabilities. We continued our use of art therapy, Gymboree and dance, our collaboration with Easter Seals Children’s Therapy and BridgingApps Programs to increase the benefits to the child and provide a broader continuum of services in one place.

Area school districts have disproportionately cut funding and teacher positions for children with disabilities as the state has cut budgets-meaning lower levels of educational opportunities and higher risk of unsafe conditions for children who are extremely vulnerable. There is an imperative need for choice and making available an option for parents of children with the most severe and/or multiple handicapping conditions who are seeking availability of a private alternative to existing public school special education programs. ESGH and the Caroline School are here to help with that gap.

If you would like more information regarding The Caroline School program please contact Melissa Larson at mlarson@eastersealshouston.org.

Melissa Larson, Easter Seals Greater Houston, Caroline School

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Sophie’s Corner

You like me! You really like me!   So, I get to write again this week which just means I get to tell another great story about one of my friends!

Did you know that The Caroline School was created to offer a custom learning environment for children with severe to profound developmental delays? My friend, Marissa, goes there. When Marissa started at the school, she was really scared of animals, and one day ran out into the street and away from her mom because she was so scared of another dog. Miss Larson, her teacher, suggested that I go to school every day with her, that way Marissa could overcome her fear of animals and stay safe when she was out in the community.  At first she didn’t want anything to do with me but I just hung around and was really quiet, pretty soon Marissa was asking for me by name and couldn’t wait for me to come visit her at school! …did you have any doubts?

My friends at Easter Seals are my family and are extra special! My mom, our special event manager, says she and my Aunts (Kelly, Elise and Madison – otherwise known as the Development Department) work year round on our events to raise funds so that all nine of our programs can keep helping all my friends like Marissa and their families. October, November and December are kinda crazy – we have our Pumpkin Patch Party (a safe place for kids with disabilities to “trick or treat”), “The Bash – A Halloween Happening” on October 29th, our annual golf tournament on November 17th and family holiday adoption in December!

Stayed tuned for more or contact the office to see how you can help! There are so many ways you can! P.S. Check out the cute pic of me and Caroline, the name-sake for our school! I love my Caroline hugs!


Sophie Jane

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