Midway Covenant Christian School, Powder Springs
Few things delight parents like seeing their children rise to meet difficult challenges, exceed expectations, and flourish in the face of adversity. For Arete couple Deborah and Mark Truchan of Powder Springs, the joy stems partly from seeing their precocious 2nd grader, Sasha, rise from "bottom of the class" as a kindergartener to straight A's at Midway Covenant Christian School.
The challenges began for the Truchans even before Sasha, now 7, was diagnosed during pre-kindergarten with a neurological condition called Sensory Processing Disorder. The frustrations grew when Mr. Truchan lost his job three years ago and the couple saw few available educational options for their middle daughter.
"We knew early that Sasha had trouble concentrating and that everyday things, loud noises, changes in structure and surroundings, fuzzy things, most any distraction at all, can totally set her off," said Deborah Truchan. "Putting a name to it helped us begin to know how to face it. Unfortunately, while my husband's part-time work helps pay the bills, it's not enough to educate Sasha as she needs."
Sensory Processing Disorder, or SPD, is a condition that exists when sensory signals, those messages passed from our senses to our nervous system, fail to get organized into appropriate responses. According to the SPD Foundation, "a person with SPD finds it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses, which creates challenges in performing countless everyday tasks. Motor clumsiness, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, school failure, and other impacts may result if the disorder is not treated effectively."
According to Mrs. Truchan, children with SPD are frequently labeled in school as behavioral problems, since most are as academically talented as classmates and many are intellectually gifted. Kids are "constantly being sent to the office and punished because they are unable to sit still in chairs and are easily distracted," said Mrs. Truchan. "Senses are heightened and that makes it more difficult to maintain focus."
As a former public school teacher, Mrs. Truchan knew that Sasha needed extra care and classroom attention that she was unlikely to receive in her local school. Sasha's two years of occupational therapy confirmed the need. After learning of Georgia's Tuition Tax Credit Scholarship Program from a newspaper article, Deborah Truchan discovered Arete Scholars Fund and applied for and was awarded the need-based scholarship.
The Truchans enrolled Sasha in Midway Covenant Christian School, where their oldest daughter, Jillian, is currently in the 5th grade.
"The teachers here have been so phenomenal," said Mrs. Truchan. "They've been willing to listen to our concerns and watch for signs that something might set Sasha off. It's wonderful that they're able to give her a hug, and pray with her, and work her through the moment."
Now in her second year as an Arete Scholar, Sasha has grown from an overwhelmed and timid kindergartener to a joyful, overachieving 2nd grader who exceeds all expectations - and the impact has carried over to the entire family.
"It's amazing to see how much she has grown spiritually, emotionally, and academically," said Mrs. Truchan. "We are in awe at how Sasha is thriving despite all she's gone through. She's still learning coping skills, but she's succeeding beyond our wildest imagination."
"Without Arete, Sasha would not be at Midway. This has been life-changing for all of us."
Though only 7 years old, Sasha's tender heart, concern for others, and joyful demeanor are evident to anyone who meets her. According to Mrs. Truchan, Sasha has already set her career sights on being a nurse.
"I love caring for people," said Sasha. "I love making people feel better and smile."
For more information about Midway Covenant Christian School, visit them online at www.midwayschool.org.
Tue, April 3, 2012