CARDINGTON — Tomorrow School teacher Peggy Hubschman spoke with compassion and emotion about the trauma and upheaval in the lives of some of her students at the Tomorrow Center.
The October Mothers Forum topic was “Children With Special Needs” and she began with the distinction between children with physical disabilities and those with special needs due to emotional and educational difficulties.
Hubschman talked about children with special needs from both the standpoint of a parent and a teacher. Hubschman and her husband, Jeff, special education teacher at Northmor High School, adopted four foster children, some of whom had endured traumatic situations in the foster care system.
The lessons in parenting she learned from her own family are part of the foundation for how she works with the children at the Tomorrow Center.
“Many children may come from homes that are abusive, dysfunctional, neglectful or deprived,” said Hubschman. “These children need routine and regularity – just the opposite of what their life has been.”
It’s very important to look at the circumstances in a child’s life and try to “unravel what has been happening in their past,” Hubschman continued.
What the Hubschmans learned from their own experience in working with foster children is that there is a need “to forgive more, to have limits be more clear and to have more enforcement of the rules.”
One plan the Hubschman family followed was to have contracts for chores. Both the parents and the kids made sure contracts were followed closely. The children kept ‘check books’ and they all made a game of the chore contracts. It gave them life skills and purpose.
Tomorrow Center kids need to have that same sense of purpose and feeling that the work they do is important. In having that sense of purpose, they gain confidence and believe in themselves. Hubschman and the staff at Tomorrow Center have studied childhood trauma and how to work with children whose lives see a lot of turmoil.
Hubschman is called the “success coach” at the Tomorrow Center. She works with the high school age children at having a plan to graduate. She looks at what credits need to be recovered and earned towards graduation and seeks many ways to keep students motivated.
There are 140 students presently in grades 6-12 at the Tomorrow Center, which is an open enrollment school with children from all the school districts in the county and some from surrounding counties. It’s important to realize that many of these students have emotional struggles and need to work at their own pace.Some are phenomenal athletes who never before had the opportunity to play because of their grades. The intramural sports at the school are a real gift to these children, she said.
“We get both the bullies and the bullied that are often very intelligent and haven’t been functioning because of situations in their home or school,” Hubschman said. “Patience and good humor are required” in working with these children, Hubschman said in conclusion.
Mothers Forum President, Sharon Hickson thanked Hubschman after a question and answer period. The next meeting of Mothers Forum will be Thursday, Nov. 9 when the group will attend “Morrow at the Movies” at the Capitol Theatre.