Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Sasha's School (shkola) Solution

школа pronounced [shkola]- the Russian word for school. From the Latin "schola" meaning a place for the discussion. Our quest to find the best "place for the discussion" for Sasha has been quite a long journey. Just a quick trip down memory lane- we adopted Sasha and brought her home from Russia on May 26, 2011. In August, not knowing quite what to do, we enrolled her in the local public Jr. High. We were living in Texas at the time. That lasted for one week and was a disaster. Some of it was the school's fault, some of it was no one's fault. Accommodating a seventh grader who cannot read or write English is a weighty task. We brought her home and I attempted to home school her. Let's just say that Sasha and I mix about like oil and water. 2011 came to an end and so did my patience.

New year, new home school instructor. For the spring semester of 2012, we hired a wonderful lady from our church to home school Sasha for us. She was truly a blessing and Sasha did well with her. But as the school year came to a close, so did Dan's job. Not knowing what our finances would look like, we once again decided to try teaching Sasha ourselves. This time Dan decided to give it a try. The fall semester of 2012 started off well, but once again as the year came to an end, so did Dan's patience. Hey, at least I wasn't the only Jensen unable to handle this.

In November 2012 Sasha started expressing an interest in trying public school again. With Dan's patience exhausted and no finances to hire a private tutor, we reluctantly gave public school another try. Sasha returned to public Jr. High for the spring semester of 2013. It was definitely better than it had been before. She made friends, which was very important and made it worth the experience, but academically it was still just such a mess. What do you do with a kid who performs above her 8th grade peers in math but can only read at about a 3rd grade level? Enter THEO located in Plano, TX.

THEO is a wonderful home school coop program. THEO provides the facility and finds qualified teachers to teach needed subjects. Parents pay teachers directly and can choose for their child to take one, some, or all of their subjects there. Since parents are pooling their money together to hire teachers, it was very very affordable. Sasha looked forward to school every day and was really learning. But no sooner had the school year started than Dan got a new job in San Jose, California. We are grateful for the job but the move felt overwhelming. Poor Sasha. She was losing the school and friends she had just found. She finished the fall semester at THEO but then had to say goodbye.

So here we are in San Jose, CA. There is no THEO here nor anything like it. I didn't know what to do. For a time I considered trying to home school Sasha myself again but knew deep down inside that it wouldn't work- remember, oil and water. I need to be this girl's mom right now, not her teacher. We had an appointment last Tuesday with a local clinic called Reading and Spelling Solutions. They specialize in helping kids like Sasha and we knew they could help her, but we weren't expecting the miracle we found there. They tested Sasha and found no learning disabilities. She is just confused because of language. Not only can they help her with her reading and English, but they have a home school program! She will attend 2 hours a day, 5 days and week and work one-on-one with a teacher. They will teach her English (reading, spelling, grammar, pronunciation), Algebra, and US History. I purchased the Geography curriculum that she had already started in the fall and we will finish it at home this spring. Hey, I can handle just one class. She's also learning to type with an online course, and continues to read and do copy work in Russian.

We have already found a church youth group for her and I'm sure she'll make friends quickly. The greatest miracle of Reading and Spelling Solutions is the people and what they believe they can accomplish with Sasha. They are wonderful Christian people and we are so impressed with how they interact with the kids who come through their doors for help. When testing Sasha, although they found her to be quite confused, they found her IQ to be quite high. They believe that they can take this kid who currently reads at about a 4th grade level and have her reading at a 9th grade level by September. She may need to keep attending school with them next fall to get completely caught up, but regardless, this is just a life changing miracle for Sasha. If she can get caught up academically now instead of when she is 25, it will really change her life and her future.

And there you have it- our long journey for a school solution for Sasha. We aren't finished yet. The journey will continue. We just keep trying things until we find something that works for her. We knew what we were signing up for when we adopted her. It's been a wonderful, frustrating, interesting, exhausting experience. If you're in a similar situation, don't give up and NEVER settle for something mediocre. Just keep trying until you find your "place for the discussion."

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