For most of her childhood, Chloe struggled with learning disabilities that caused her to fall almost three grades behind her peers.
The quiet 10-year-old wasn’t meeting benchmarks in subjects like math, speech and reading. It was hard for her to understand basic addition and subtraction, decode words or move beyond a second-grade reading level.
Michele Douglas, Chloe’s grandmother and guardian, said Chloe also wasn’t getting to socialize and build friendships because she was being pulled out of the classroom five times a day to see specialists.
“That’s a lot of times to leave a classroom in a day,” Michele said. “For Chloe it seems like all she does is move around to different places.”
Michele and her husband care for Chloe and younger sister Alicia, 8. The couple also looks after the girls’ parents who have cognitive disabilities that make it difficult for them to care for Chloe and Alicia.
Despite receiving special education instruction and tutoring, Chloe’s progress was minimal. Teachers told Michele that Chloe might be held back in fifth grade because they were concerned she wouldn’t be ready for middle school academics.
“There’s not much more the school can offer as far as services for Chloe. And she already was in all those programs,” Michele said.
Seeing the light go on
Michele turned to the Boys and Girls Club of Cabarrus County, where Chloe and Alicia have attended programs after school since they were in kindergarten.
United Way of Central Carolinas supports educational programs across the region like those offered at the Boys and Girls Club of Cabarrus County. These programs are changing the odds for children in our community through access to quality learning experiences and safe, nurturing environments.
Chloe was selected for a newer, more intensive program that focuses on tailored tutoring and specific educational goals for children struggling academically.
A few weeks into the new tutoring program, Michele said she started to see the light go on in Chloe’s head and several positive changes – improving benchmarks, making friends and developing her personality.
Now, the shy girl who used to sit alone in the corner struggling to read a book or at a computer not talking to anyone is enjoying her academics and building relationships.
“It’s been nice to see her progress academically, socially, as well as emotionally,” said Jonathan Helms, a unit director with the Boys and Girls Club. “Afterschool programs like the one that we have directly benefit Chloe in more ways than one.”
Chloe said her favorite subject is math because it’s challenging and teaches her new things, and she likes to read chapter books.
“I read about four books every week,” she said.
A brighter future
Michele said Chloe’s benchmarks have improved so much that she’s nearly caught up to the same grade level as her peers.
“The teachers at the school were like what’s going on? I said to them the only difference is the fact that she’s going to this tutoring,” Michele said. “The teachers are like, this is a totally different child.”
Starting in the 2018-19 school year, for the first time Chloe will be prepared for inclusion, meaning she’ll have the chance to learn alongside her peers in a general education classroom. She will no longer need to leave the classroom for specialists.
Staff at the Boys and Girls Club who work with Chloe have seen the program give her confidence and competence, too.
“Just to see the impact that something like this has on Chloe and her family, it puts a lump in my throat,” Jonathan said.
Without the help of educational programs like those supported by United Way, Michele said she would’ve had to quit her job to watch Chloe and Alicia after school and during summer months.
But stress has been lifted off the family because the girls have a safe place to have fun and get one-on-one help with academics.
“I don’t worry anymore. Chloe’s finally on track and can go and do whatever she wants to do,” Michele said. “She can be a hairdresser, a doctor, a lawyer, whatever she wants to be. It’s huge because we never knew whether that was going to happen or not.”