Inside California Education: Hospital School

♪♪ Narr: Meet some of the
young patients at the Lucile Packard Children’s
Hospital Stanford. Some are battling
critical conditions, like organ failure or cancer. But for four hours a day, they get to be something else
entirely: Students. Kathy: They might be sick
for a very long period of time, and we still
want them to feel like they have a future,
and we want them to have as normal a life as possible. And for a child “normal”
means going to school. Sometimes we see them
in their rooms, and they’re sad, or they’re
upset, they’re scared. Whereas in here
they can be kids. And we really just
try to treat them like they’re kids. Narr: Two classrooms on
the third floor of the hospital make up
what’s known as the “hospital school.” It’s a joint program of
Palo Alto Unified School District and the Stanford
children’s hospital. Kindergarten through 12th
grade students attend daily classes taught by
accredited teachers – just like any other school. Except the students
here have other challenges to overcome. Kevin: Many of them
come with accoutrements. So they’ll either have
poles they’re attached to receiving medication. Sometimes kids come with
1 on 1 nursing aides. Kathy: We get kids who
they’re waiting for organs, so they’re
here for a year or more than a year. You know we don’t want to
put their lives on hold. Kathy: For some of them,
they’re so grateful because if there
wasn’t a school here they would not have
been able to graduate, they would not have
been able to get credits, they would not have been
able to keep up with their homes, and one
of the things they want to do is be able to get
discharged from here and go back, and go back
into their regular lives. Ryan: I was diagnosed with
chronic myeloid leukemia in 2016. And I actually only missed
1 week of school before I returned to actual,
like normal school. I had a mutation of my
leukemia and it got worse and since then I’ve
been out of school since February of 2017. Dilani: Right now
he’s doing good, he’s back at school. Thank you very much,
Stanford school… I would say
because my lo-, my son loves school. Narr: When Ryan’s immune
system is strong enough, he’ll return to
his home school. He’s told that’s
just weeks away. Ryan: Its definitely going
to be different going back because I’ve adapted to
coming to the hospital school every day.
It’s nice. It’s really- the hospital school is
really different from the normal school because you
can do really what you need to get done and
everyone, you can talk. Do you what
you need to do. The atmosphere is
completely different from normal school. Dilani: They take
care of these kids. They treat them like
they are their own kids. Narr: While Ryan’s stay is soon
ending, little Yasin’s is just beginning. Teacher Kevin Danie is
getting him used to the whole idea of school. Kevin: Peek-a-boo!
Yasin: Peek-a-boo! Kevin: He’s a kindergartener, he comes in each day
expecting that before he gets to work, he’s going
to at least have a moment of relaxation,
social time, get used to the change between the
hospital setting and the school setting. Narr: If the students
here find themselves in a dramatically different
environment for learning, so do the school’s seven
full-time teachers. They might be teaching any
number of grade levels – all at once. Students might attend
for a day – or a year. And by teacher Kathy Ho’s
calculation, education is merely job number three. Kathy: The medical
always comes first. And then under that for
us is the socio-emotional well-being of the kid
and then below that it’s the academics. Because sometimes – you’re
not going to learn math if you don’t feel good. You’re not going to
learn math if you just got really bad news. There’s no point in us
pushing that on them. Narr: David Llano knows
what it is like to endure those ups and downs. His battle with leukemia
brought him here for his senior year in high school, but that was three years ago. Now in college, he’s
back as a mentor. David: When I was first
diagnosed, I was a senior and I had no direction
and no knowledge of what I wanted to do in life. But when I was an
inpatient I saw how many families cancer
affected or illnesses affected in general so I
thought maybe I could give people hope, and tell them
what’s going to go down like in the hospital, and
maybe they’ll, it’ll uplift them to fight
their own battle. You can relate
to everyone here. In such a different level. ‘Cause like we all go
thought the same struggles in our everyday lives. Narr: The transition from
the hospital, where everyone understands
your struggles, back to regular school can sometimes be jarring. That’s why the hospital
created a program called “HEAL.” It stands for Hospital
Educational Advocacy Liaisons and it helps families
smooth the transition. Jeanne: We work with
their families to be sure they are
adequately served when they go back to school. Because a lot of school
districts are not used to having a child with a chronic illness
in the classroom. Christian: Oftentimes the
teachers may see you know the behavioral
difficulties or think the child is not
trying hard, or not listening, or not doing
well, or could work faster. And it’s really trying to
understand that this child has had some exposure
to medications, or some treatments, or surgery
procedures that have left them a little bit
slower than they were. And really try to help
them understand it’s not just a behavioral issue,
they are really trying their best and doing
what they’re capable of. Narr: For each of
these kids at the hospital school, the
goal is the same. A return to health
and normalcy. As Ryan hopes will
happen to him in just a few
more weeks. Ryan: The hospital school
has done a great job of supporting everything
that I need to succeed in academics. Narr: Or an outcome
like David Llano’s. David: I feel great. It’s been 3 years. 3 years cancer-free. I can say I became
a better scholar by coming here. Narr: The hospital school at Stanford is named for
Lucile Packard, who volunteered with children
battling tuberculosis in the 1930’s. Her husband David
was the co-founder of Hewitt-Packard and the
couple used their good fortune to help others. Among the recipients of
their generosity: the Monterey Bay Aquarium
Research Institute and, of course, the Lucile Packard
Children’s Hospital.

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