River’s Journey

River in the classroom


River, a 5th grader, from Honolulu, Hawaii has made a long journey to get to where she is today, not only geographically with a move to DFW area but emotionally and academically. She first came to live with her Aunt Lisa three years ago. The family knew she needed academic support because as a third grader she read at a preschool level. Some preliminary testing had been done and it was suspected she had dyslexia. River’s father enlisted Lisa to help since she degree in Early Child Development.

After learning of Key School from a family friend, Lisa enrolled River in Key School as a third grader. That first year at Key, River still struggled; however, the team quickly realized that something else was going on. River was further tested with a full range of tests.

“Mellie Joiner was very involved. She helped us to find who could get her testing and which psychologist would be the best,” Lisa explained.

After additional testing, River was diagnosed with neural developmental differences along with language and expressive processing disorders. This explained a lot for the family as River struggled with retaining the words and language skills she was being taught. The family was able to get her on medication that made an impact and the difference was immediate.

Today, River now enjoys reading. She reads to her younger cousin and enjoys showing off to mom and dad who both still live in Hawaii. “River’s self-confidence has grown. For sure, the one-on-one attention, small class sizes and teaching her to self-advocate–that it is okay to make mistakes that is the difference,” Lisa said.

Lisa attributes much of her growth to the hands-on learning that her teachers provide and to the Academic Language Therapy (ALT) River does as well. She loves Mrs. Christian, her ALT teacher.

“She has had so much growth. She’s a whole different kid today,” Lisa said. Adding, “The community that Key School provides is amazing. Everyone loves your child and everyone is involved in their journey.”