January 19, 2015
Our students are back in school for new academic year! Our team is collectively breathing a sigh of relief, having completed quite a logistical feat. For most families, the school year entails enrolling a student (or two), getting uniforms and backpacks ready, and organizing the schedule of daily drop offs and pick ups.
For Acres of Love, this beginning-of-the-year dance is a bit more complicated. Many of our students attend local public schools, and the enrollment process is simple and straightforward. But for the almost 40% of our children with moderate to severe special needs, local public schools don’t offer services that best support their needs. In order to particularize and meet these individual needs, our team meets with teachers, medical professionals, and therapists to assess the best educational plan for each child. We then advocate for each child within the private school sector to find a school environment that can allow him or her to find academic success. With needs including (but not limited to) autism, hearing impairments, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, paraplegia, the right school may be different for each child in a home. For children who have come to us with large gaps in their schooling, we find that they are not able to easily enter the South African public schools.
We proactively work to ensure each child is at the correct school for his or her areas of strengths and weaknesses. The following breakdown shows what the 2015 school year looks like for our families:
· One of our Forever Homes has students in six different local schools this year.
· Thirty-nine different schools serve our 24 Johannesburg Forever Homes.
· Nineteen of those are private schools that we pay school fees for our children to attend.
· Eleven of those schools exist primarily to teach children with special needs.
As you can imagine, this makes the logistics of homework, tuition schedules for private school options, Parent-Teacher conferences, Back-To-School orientation meetings, sporting games, and pick up very involved. Our Acres of Love Transport team is efficient and effective in getting each child dropped off and picked up from school on time. Our Team Coordinators work alongside with our House Parents to make sure each child is represented at the school meetings and orientations. Our House Parents communicate with each child’s teacher to stay informed about classroom activities and field trips. We also encourage our children to participate in extra-curricular activities at school in areas that interest them.
While these details can seem overwhelming, our passionate team works together to make each school year successful for our children. As we look ahead to the 2015 school year, we are excited to celebrate each classroom accomplishment, rugby game, choir performance, track meet, report card, and milestone. Most importantly, we’re satisfied to know that our children are confident in the love and encouragement of family as they work hard in their education.