If you had told me in March that we would be under a stay-at-home order for four months, I would not have believed you. If you had told me I would be attending church virtually for five months, I would not have believed you. If you had told me that in August we would be questioning if children will be safe going back to school, I would not have believed you. But here we are. These are unprecedented times to say the least.
Like many of my fellow North Carolinians, I waited anxiously on July 11 for word about our children returning to the classroom. We now know the expectation is they will return August 17.
However, at this time we do not know what school will look like for the children. Will there be two days in the classroom and two days remote? Will school for elementary and middle school boys and girls be different from high school students? Will there be band or sports?
There are many unanswered questions.
What we do know is that children will have school! We will make sure that every child in Baptist Children’s Homes’ (BCH) care is given the opportunity to learn and grow to their maximum potential.
I can tell you that with the unknowns comes the need for different resources. We will need more funds for tutors this fall and throughout the year. We will need more Chromebooks for the children. We will need more supplies, such as copy paper and printers for work they will need to do at home in the cottages. And, we will need lots of prayers––your prayers––as we continue to navigate this new normal.
For many of BCH’s children, when they first come into care, learning is a major challenge. Many believe they are going to fail––that they are failures. But then they are showered with unconditional love, heaps of encouragement, and unrelenting support. Houseparents like Dan and Alice Arrington and Gene and Dana Byrd at Mills Home or Betty and Will Porter and Sian and Adam Saunders at Broyhill Home take it as a personal challenge to help these beautiful boys and girls go from crying over homework and failing grades to bringing home notes from teachers telling cottage parents they are flourishing and graded papers filled with smiley faces and good marks. The children can’t wait to see their artwork on the refrigerator doors or tacked on the cottage’s bulletin board.
To watch them go from failing grades and a spirit of defeat to striving to be the best they can be is a miracle. We testify that God is at work in the lives of children.
When Zach came to BCH, he had struggled at school. It was not that he was not capable, but his behavior got in the way of his learning. His attitude became his enemy.
So many things that he pushed away and stuffed deep inside himself was in the way. He was dealing with the death of his father who passed away with cancer. Zach had unbearable sorrow, unanswered questions, and great pain. Over time, it affected his relationships at home and school. His academics suffered.
But on Zach’s horizon was hope. The day he came to Cameron Boys Camp he found a new love for learning. Camp’s academic program revived his interest and curiosity in learning.
Zach’s struggle with reading changed to a new love for reading. He could not put a book down. One could often find him with a book in hand reading for hours––learning and exploring many new things. Based on academic tests taken when Zach entered Camp and then compared to his success at the end of his time in the Cameron program, he grew. In fact, Zach improved six grade levels in reading and 10 grade levels in reading comprehension. He grew four levels in math and one level in written language. He also tested on a college level in these three areas. Zach’s math skills are equivalent to a junior in college. The education model of hands-on, experiential learning has proven to be highly effective for Zach––it was just what he needed.
Zach recently returned home. Pray for him as he begins a new chapter in his life and a new school year––especially not knowing exactly what school may look like.
Zach is aware that BCH exists because your gifts make it possible for us to help every boy and girl develop to their maximum potential––to be all that God intends for them. He is grateful for the support you have given him and has a special message for you: “I have been really blessed by my staff, my family who found me the help that I needed, and by you. Thank you!”
In just a few weeks, hundreds of BCH’s children will begin a new school year––twelve students begin college in August. We need your help to make more success stories a reality ––just like Zach’s.
Call me at 336-689-4442 and learn how you can help a child as they begin a new school year. Thank you!
Worthwhile Investments is written by Brenda Gray, Executive Vice President of Development and Communications