Part two of a series focusing on how the Cherry Creek School District is meeting the needs of all children.
Shannon Chavez and her son Cole have learned that community isn’t limited to a single building.
Cole, a third-grader at Antelope Ridge Elementary, hasn’t been able to attend classes at the school for two years. After testing positive for a genetic disorder that took the life of his cousin, Cole had to undergo a series of treatments that made him especially susceptible to infections. With a brutal and constant regiment of treatments, his daily life had to shift away from Antelope Ridge.
That move didn’t remove him from the Antelope Ridge community, nor from the wider circle of the Cherry Creek School District. Thanks to the district’s Homebound program, Cole has been able to keep up with his peers in lessons delivered by a teacher who reports directly to the Chavez home.
What’s more, Cole has been able to keep in contact with his fellow students at Antelope Ridge through video conferencing, even as he’s keeping up with their in-class progress with his in-home teacher.
Shannon Chavez, who works at Antelope Ridge, says the experience has been a boon during a difficult time for the entire family. Antelope Ridge Principal Christopher Powell suggested the home care program two years ago, and it’s helped keep the family focused on maintaining a degree of normalcy, even as Cole works to get better.
“I didn’t know what was going to happen, just because I knew that he couldn’t go to school,” Shannon Chavez said. “It has been a godsend. People who don’t live in this area are just shocked that Cherry Creek Schools provides this for us. They’re impressed.”
A typical home school day for Cole includes lessons in math, reading, social studies and science. Cole enjoys studying history and finding faraway locales on world maps. He conducts science experiments at home and works hard on spelling assignments and working his way through assigned texts. Both of the teachers who have worked with Cole over the past two years have offered patience and persistence, even through the most difficult times of Cole’s illness.
“My first teacher knew me really well,” Cole said, adding that she worked with him to find the best route forward, even on the most uncomfortable and difficult days.
It’s a personalized, dedicated kind of instruction that’s offered the entire family a degree of predictability and focus during a stretch that’s thrown plenty of curve balls.
“You can’t even put the value of this into words. Having a life-threatening illness, our first priority is to take care of him. To be able to continue his education so he doesn’t fall behind, so that he can stay with the kids he started with in kindergarten – it’s been a godsend, because I couldn’t do it alone,” Shannon Chavez said. “The experience has brought us closer to the school family. He’s still a part of their class, and the teachers at the school have kept him a part of everything.”