Tag Archives: The Caroline School

The Legacy of The Caroline School

People with charisma often go into politics, the clergy or they run successful companies. They attract admirers and influence those around them. Caroline DeLuca was a child with charisma. While she did not speak with her voice, her charisma, smile and irrepressible charm spoke to people’s hearts-she attracted hundreds of admirers and influenced everyone around her.

heather jo and carolinePowerful people change the world. Caroline was, while living in a young but uncooperative body, a very powerful person. On a personal level, she changed the lives of everyone who knew her. On a community level, she inspired those around her to make the world better for children with disabilities. Her amazing parents, Anthony and Elizabeth, have worked and fought and given so much to ensure that children like Caroline and their families thrive and have the help they need to face the obstacles and prejudices that arise from disability. Her sisters, Allison, Virginia Claire and Lauren-who have very different personalities from each other-each share the common traits of grace, open hearts and strength. I know that along with the example of their parents, Caroline had a lot to do with why they are such extraordinary young women.598926_576373052382236_473731378_n

When they were unable to find a school that provided what Caroline needed, the DeLuca’s founded the Caroline School. Elizabeth said that the school is the place where children, no matter what their disability or medical condition, need and deserve a school where the curriculum is adjusted to their capabilities, where the teachers and aides care deeply about the children, where children feel safe and loved. The school at Easter Seals Greater Houston that Caroline inspired is just that place. Like most 18 year olds, Caroline loved music, swimming, fashion and friends. Unlike most 18 year olds, she had to fight really hard to be here with us-sharing her smile, her strong fighting spirit and her joy. While her physical presence is gone, her spirit lives on in the memories of her friends and family and in The Caroline School and Easter Seals Greater Houston, which will continue to provide a joyful and caring place for children with special health care needs.

Thank you Caroline, for the gifts you gave us all. We will miss you…I will miss you, but I am grateful for having known you and for the hearts you opened, the work you inspired, the joy you shared for the brief time you were here. I will work to do my small part in carrying on your powerful legacy.2013 Caroline and Jonathan

I hope you were as lucky as I am – to have known her, loved her and been inspired by her.   I have struggled for the past few days to write this – I just can not do Caroline justice.   So I will repeat her sister Lauren’s words, “Let Caroline’s courageous spirit inspire you in your daily life. Take the things that she taught all of us and carry them with you: Be the person who takes an extra minute to understand …someone. Treat people with patience and compassion. Ask questions. Never underestimate yourself or anyone else. Stay positive.”

Elise Hough, CEO, Easter Seals Greater Houston

If you would like to contribute in memory of Caroline DeLuca to help us fulfill her legacy –The Caroline School Operating Endowment Campaign


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Celebrating Milestones with the Caroline School at Easter Seals

students 1The Caroline School is in its fourth year at Easter Seals Greater Houston!  We are continuing to grow and expand our thank youprograms and opportunities for our students to show how fabulous they are!  This coming May, The Caroline School students will perform their first ever music and dance recital.  Thanks to the generous time and dedication from Sarah of Shine Dance and Kalenn of Rhythm of Life Music Therapy our students will be moving and shaking showing off their amazing abilities through dance and music therapy.  I am so proud of all the students!  They have practiced and worked hard to meet the fine motor, gross motor and attention to task challenge set before them.

As the school year is coming to an end I would like to thank all The Caroline School staff for their hard work and students 4dedication to the students this school year.  We are able to provide a quality education in a loving and safe environment and build our students up to meet the expectations set academically.  I could not do this alone and I am blessed and thankful for each of our teachers!

students 2The mother of one of our students, a young boy who went from verbal to a non-verbal state in public schools wrote this after five months at the Caroline School, “I wanted to send all of you a note to thank you for everything you have done for Michael this past year.  Today he had his appointment at the Meyer Center with his developmental pediatrician and for the first time in the seven years I have taken him, Michael progressed a full developmental year within a chronological year in all areas (expressive and receptive language, gross motor, visual perception etc). Mark and I are so proud of him and so grateful for everything you are doing each day to make this possible.”

Melissa Hueske (Larson), The Caroline School, Easter Seals Greater Houston

students 5Want to support the school and scholarships for children with disabilities who would not be able to access services without your support? Check out our upcoming Coach Gene Stallings event benefiting the Operating Endowment Campaign!

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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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