We are thrilled to share this story from Trish King, principal at Sussex Christian School (Sussex, NJ), on the impact of inclusion on their community.
Meet my friend, Charlote, a third-grade student at Sussex Christian School (SCS). Charlote was adopted from an orphanage in China when she was six years old.
We were so excited to welcome Charlote into our school as a kindergarten student in 2010. Charlote smiled all of the time and immediately became the most popular student in the school; all the students wanted to spend recess with her.
Both teachers and students could tell that she was eager to learn, but it was difficult to tell what she knew, since she could only speak her native language, Mandarin. Despite these difficulties, her teacher and class embraced her and it was good.
But as the kindergartners progressed, Charlote didn’t. She was learning, but at a slower rate than her classmates. It was hard to tell if she had a disability or if it was a language barrier. After much prayer and persistence we were able to test her and found that there was more to her learning difficulty than a language barrier.
Because we could not provide the services Charlote needed to learn and succeed at Sussex Christian, Charlote needed to transfer to a public school. We would miss her presence–especially her smile–at our school. This move forced us to revisit our commitment to including ALL of God’s children. That year, we decided to partner with CLC Network to help us welcome and support students like Charlote at SCS.
We were so thrilled when Charlote returned to our school at SCS last year! We welcomed her into our second grade classroom, with academic support provided by our inclusion teacher, Mrs. MacMillien. Though she had progressed at her former school, she was not reading yet. This time, we were equipped with the resources to support her.
Last June, I stopped in the second grade class where I found Charlote and a friend staying inside during recess. The two had been making Father’s Day cards.
Though Charlote had struggled with reading, she walked over to a desk and immediately started reading everything that was on the Father’s Day card.
She didn’t know it, but I had tears running down my cheeks. She was reading! Praise God for the amazing things that are happening here!
Though inclusion isn’t always easy, we lean on this promise from the Psalms: “Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him and he will bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:6 NKJV). We prayerfully trust that as we commit to welcoming ALL of God’s kids, that he will continue to provide the support and resources, like our partnership with CLC Network, that make this possible.
Learn about the growth of another SCS student in this blog post.
Trish King has been an administrator at Sussex Christian School for eleven years. She is a graduate of Westminster College (New Willmington, PA) and Baptist Bible College (Clark Summit, PA).