As a long-time supporter of Switzer Learning Center, we are dedicating this section of our website to this special school to raise awareness about the significant role it plays in the lives of local students and their families, and promote support for their “Project 87” to safely re-open the school in the New Year.
“Since my first day of walking into Switzer Learning Center – with a really bad limp – my life has changed remarkably!” Sandy*
Switzer Learning Center (Switzer) students like Sandy, whose life has been rife with unimaginable challenges due to abuse and neglect from a very young age, which caused her life-long orthopedic difficulties, find conventional schools enormously challenging. Yet, if you spoke with this bright senior today, it would be difficult to imagine the horrendous past she brought with her when she arrived at Switzer a shy and scared girl who remarkably still found the strength within herself to try. At Switzer, she was accepted and encouraged in a stable and supportive learning environment that allowed her to believe, achieve, and thrive.
Switzer has been serving students like Sandy since 1966 – kids who face learning and developmental disabilities, language and communication disorders, and/or behavioral and emotional disturbances. Other students Switzer serves also carry the burden of having experienced overwhelming trauma, neglect and abuse, with many living in foster care and/or poverty level households.
In a traditional school setting, children with social, emotional, and behavioral challenges are often misunderstood, which can be discouraging and lead them to just give up. At Switzer, special education teachers help these students overcome the obstacles they face and thrive. For example, students with a higher number of adverse childhood experiences have an elevated risk of joining gangs, dropping out of school, being incarcerated, becoming addicted, inflicting self-injurious behaviors, and ultimately becoming under- or unemployed. There are many reasons these type of students may fail in a generic school environment and not reach their full potential.
When difficult behaviors cannot be ignored any longer, and traditional school settings have exhausted all options to successfully help students, schools, parents and caregivers turn to Switzer Learning Center. Students transitioning back from residential schools to Switzer are also welcomed with open arms. The school offers a calmer environment where teachers, therapists, counselors and aides understand the special needs of the students and provide the support needed to build self-esteem and self-worth. Students make new friends and embrace a new purpose, finding comfort in their new routines, instilling hope where there had been none!
“I have learned to get through the smallest obstacles that help me keep the tougher ones from forming. Switzer has changed my life for the better in many ways. My grades are now really good, and I have almost perfect attendance.” – Sandy
Switzer’s dedicated professional staff and specialized educators care deeply about the student body they fondly refer to as “Switzer Stallions,“ and devote a massive amount of time and energy to each individual student.
Sadly, the devastating change to school operations this year brought on by the Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19) has had an enormous negative impact on Switzer students. Removed from their daily routines and even more important support systems, many students have gone from thriving to struggling.
For these students, seeing teachers and friends in school each day offers them a structured routine that helps them feel accepted and safe. Switzer teachers also face enormous challenges in setting educational goals and navigating distance learning on a virtual platform. Switzer students and staff are longing to return to campus, safely, as soon as possible, and are planning appropriate actions to reopen the school in the New Year. With such a daunting task, they are seeking community help.
SEEKING COMMUNITY HELP TO SAFELY RE-OPEN – PLEASE SUPPORT PROJECT 87
Project 87 is the school’s plan to raise funds to safely bring Switzer’s 87 students back on campus, taking into consideration the unique challenges COVID-19 has brought students and educators alike. Funds raised from Project 87 will go toward securing personal protective equipment and campus reconfiguration to ensure compliance with COVID-19 state orders, so students like Sandy can finally return to the classroom.
Switzer’s Executive Director Dr. Rebecca Foo explains, “When the global pandemic made distance learning the only option, our teachers, classroom aides, counselors, speech therapists, behavior specialists, and administrators adapted swiftly to nurturing our students remotely. For many of our homebound students, the lack of internet connections and remote nature of virtual services limits their growth. Students with disabilities already lag behind their peers and are falling even further behind, so we are determined to open our doors as soon as allowed. Every student with special learning needs benefits hugely from being on campus, where we can provide them a safe and nurturing environment and individualized instruction.”
Supporters of Switzer’s students are requesting the community’s assistance in re-opening the school. We estimate the cost to implement the Center for Disease Control’s recommendations to keep students, staff and faculty safe and healthy to be $2,300 per student. Any amount will help. If you or someone you know can assist by donating funds, please click here or contact Switzer directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss alternative ways to donate. Thank you!
We look forward to a day when COVID-19 is no longer the threat that it is today. A time when we can welcome the public back to tour our campus and learn more about the meaningful work Switzer does to help our students believe, achieve and thrive.
Won’t you please invest in Project 87 to help return all 87 Switzer students back to campus safely?
To learn more about Switzer Learning Center and Executive Director Dr. Rebecca Foo, click on the links.
*Although the student discussed is a real Switzer student, her name has been changed to protect her identity.