Center School 2023-2024 Annual Appeal

Dear Center School Community,
When thinking of the past few years, most of us think of chaos, uncertainty, and an ever-changing “new normal” that came with the global pandemic. For my family, that external turmoil also came with an internal one.

Declan Harp - Center School StudentAs our oldest son, Declan, started first grade in 2021, we started to notice he was struggling in school. It wasn’t a lot, but it was enough to heighten my “mom senses”.  I began to pay closer attention to his learning.  I heard from many of his teachers at his mainstream private school that it was just the aftereffects of COVID. I was told countless times not to worry and that he would “catch up”.  But, I still worried.

As Declan advanced to second grade, he still hadn’t caught up; he did the opposite. He fell further and further behind. My husband and I watched our son, who loved to learn and craved knowledge, disappear into a child filled with anxiety and trepidation over his schooling. Tears replaced the smiles as he talked about his day at school or worked on his homework.

Halfway through his second grade year, we had him tested. It confirmed what my heart already knew: Declan was diagnosed with dyslexia, dysgraphia, and dyscalculia. Now that we had a diagnosis, we believed that his learning challenges could be fixed.  We were wrong.  

We met more hurdles and roadblocks as we tried to find the appropriate learning accommodations to address Declan’s academic needs in school. As the year progressed we knew that, while his school meant well, they wouldn’t be able to meet his needs as he moved into the more strenuous upper grades.

Desperate and unsure of our next steps, my husband and I began to research schools that could support Declan’s learning disabilities.  We found Center School, a school that supports children with learning differences and provides them with the tools and scaffolding they need to work WITH their challenges, not against them; a school that gives students who learn differently a road map to navigate a world that wasn’t built with them in mind; a school that teaches children to be confident in who they are as people and as learners, and to advocate for what they need. 

Last year, Declan joined the Center School community for his third grade year.  In a very short time, we saw our son again. He comes home excited to talk about his day and what he has learned. He no longer cries over his homework or reading. Within a few months of walking through the doors at Center School, Declan asked if he could have a Kindle for his birthday so he could read as many books as he wanted.

We have all come to realize that Declan will always have learning disabilities, but my husband and I, and Declan most importantly, know that with the proper learning environment, such as Center School, a child can become an independent and confident learner, experience success, and not feel alone anymore. And because of that, I can never and will never stop singing the praises of Center School.
For 35 years this wonderful, unique, and special place has been helping students become who they were meant to be: uniquely gifted learners who look at the world in a different way.  This success has been attainable because of the thousands of generous donations made by Center Schools supporters over the past 35 years.
I truly believe EVERY child, no matter their learning style, should have access to a school like Center School where students experience a learning environment in which teachers and administrators alike are wholly committed to each child’s success and growth. Today, I am asking you to consider making a donation to Center School’s Annual Fund so that children like Declan can continue to receive the education and support that they deserve and need.

My dream is that all children who struggle like Declan, and all parents whose hearts break for their children’s pain and frustration, come to know the success and peace that is Center School. 
Parent Signature
Stacey Harp
Current Center School Parent. 
September 30th, 2023
Center School Student    Center School Student    Center School Student