This weekend, kids in the US are enjoying a break from school thanks to Memorial Day weekend, and looking forward to their quickly approaching summer break. But children facing catastrophic illness find themselves forced into a school absence that is anything but a vacation, and long to return to their studies like other kids. That’s why one of the many amazing services that St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital provides is an in-hospital classroom, so that patients can continue going to school while receiving treatment.
This school is literally sandwiched right in the middle of the hospital, so that patients can easily come here from their rooms and treatment areas. There are six teachers on staff at St. Jude for grades K-12, who work with the children’s regular school and teachers to create a curriculum and report progress.
Access to education is crucial for all children, and having a school program on-site ensures that patients do not fall behind because of their illness. From an emotional standpoint, being able to continue studies in a classroom environment helps children focus on the future and feel more hopeful. Catastrophic illness takes so much away from families, so anything that can retain a semblance of normalcy and keep children from despairing that they are being left behind provides a huge benefit. St. Jude also holds their own graduation ceremonies and prom, complete with dresses and jewelry donated by corporate partners. This is yet another way to retain normalcy and help patients participate in all of life’s important moments while undergoing treatment.
Teachers at St. Jude work closely to help patients re-integrate into school once they are well enough to leave the hospital, providing advocacy services for any health accommodations the child may need as well as meeting with the patient’s classmates and teachers to explain what the child is facing as a way to hopefully reduce any fear, confusion or bullying that a sick child encounters upon returning.
For more information on the St. Jude School Program, click here. And if you’re looking for a thoughtful teacher appreciation gift as your own children prepare for summer break, may I suggest the St. Jude Gift Shop? They have some great office supply gift items with proceeds benefiting St. Jude!