Insight from a Mom on the Impact of Sierra School on Her Son and Family

by Cynthia, mother of Christopher

Sierra Schools of San Diego became my son Christopher’s home away from home very quickly when he began attending school here in the summer of 2019. Christopher has autism and has trouble regulating his emotions. From 4th through 7th grade, Christopher would have violent outbursts and hurt other students or staff members. He was placed in a very restrictive school that’s focused on managing violent behaviors. During his 8th grade year, he was managing his emotions much better, and it was believed that he could handle attending a school that was less restrictive. As his mother, I was nervous that he would revert his old ways.

Excited For School Every Day

The school district allowed me to go and look at a few different programs in San Diego, and Sierra School was the one that made me feel good as I spoke with the staff and walked around the campus. I liked how the kids were in classes within certain age ranges, in small groups learning at their level. Kids of all abilities were looking happy and confident. The staff was kind and warm and friendly. I hoped that if I felt good here, Christopher would too. We scheduled a 2-day assessment for him to come and make sure that the school was a good fit for him. The teachers and administration were so positive. They praised him up and down and they made him feel at home from the first minute he stepped on campus. I picked him up in the afternoon after the 2nd day of his assessment and asked him if he thought he wanted to go to school here. He gave me an excited “Yes!” We waited a couple of months for the school year to finish at his prior school, and he excitedly joined Sierra during the summer ESY program. I have never seen a kid more excited to go to school every day. He left happy and arrived back home just as happy. He was making friendships at school for the first time. Talking about certain kids in his class that he liked to talk to or play with. Christopher finally felt fully included.

Christopher’s Impact On Our Staff & Students

“I remember meeting Cynthia for the intake and going through his enrollment with her. Chris is always a positive light and makes sure to say hi to staff and students when he sees them. He has sat in as a member on his IEP meetings and made the entire team so proud of his growth since he started with us.”

“Chris, our positive ray of sunshine! The first moment he walked into our classroom, it was a perfect fit! Chris has a unique bond with students and staff and adds a new positive energy to the environment! We have continued to watch Chris grow in his independence, academically, socially, and behaviorally. Chris sets a great example to his peers and encourages others (including staff) to not give up and keep trying!”

“When you think of a positive, happy, and friendly person you think of Chris. Chris, while he didn’t want to participate in the sports games himself always wanted to help out his fellow classmates and teammates. Once we started the Sports Manager position for Chris, he quickly took a leadership role with the team. Chris gives motivational speeches during practices and even at some of the games during half time. ”

“I honestly could not imagine our classroom without Chris. His positivity and eagerness to learn and be involved shines bright every day and is contagious throughout the classroom and entire school. Chris has made wonderful friends with his classmates and has established memorable bonds with many of Sierra’s staff members inside and out of his classroom.”

“Chris is such a wonderful student and absolutely brightens my day! He is always positive, always encouraging, and always kind to everyone around him. It is hard not to have a smile on your face when Chris is around. His positive energy picks up everyone around him, whether it be students or staff.”

“Chris is a very kind and caring young man. His smile lights up any room he walks into.  He always has a smile, greeting and a kind word for the staff and his peers. He brings joy into the classroom every day.”

The teachers and administration were so positive. They praised him up and down and they made him feel at home from the first minute he stepped on campus. I picked him up in the afternoon after the 2nd day of his assessment and asked him if he thought he wanted to go to school here. He gave me an excited “Yes!”

Cynthia S., Christopher’s Mom

Loving Sports In His Own Way

Sierra has an athletic program, and they play different sports throughout the year.  Christopher doesn’t like to play sports but really enjoyed going out with the students who played just to watch them. His PE teacher noticed his interest and created a special job for him as a “sports manager”. He was able to now attend (and participate in a different way) all practices, all home games, and even traveled on the bus to some of their away games. He was very proud of his job. Christopher loved his school and his school loved him right back.

Even when COVID-19 was upon us, Sierra Schools of San Diego figured it out very quickly. Within a few weeks the kids were online learning, seeing their friends on Zoom, connecting with their teachers and special services, and implementing technology to meet their academic needs. Christopher is excited to Zoom every day because he feels connected to the people that care about him the most outside of his family.

Even when COVID-19 was upon us, Sierra Schools of San Diego figured it out very quickly. Within a few weeks, the kids were online learning, seeing their friends on Zoom, connecting with their teachers and special services, and implementing technology to meet their academic needs.

Cynthia S., Christopher’s Mom

Always There for Christopher

Even when he has struggled at home, Sierra staff always reaches out to try to help with a preferred staff member or counselor talking him through the problem and helping him process through the whole thing. One day he was having a hard day because his sister left for college and he was very sad. He was crying during one of his Zoom lessons and his teacher pulled him out to a breakout room to help him talk it through. This is the kind of love, caring, and compassion that Sierra has brought to Christopher.

Christopher’s “Home Away from Home”

I am very proud of the hard work that Christopher does every day at school. I am proud of the social and emotional growth that Christopher has had because of the kindness and compassion that they have modeled for him. I am proud to call Sierra School of San Diego Christopher’s home away from home. The program is amazing. The staff is exceptional. The administration is easy to deal with and so supportive. It truly is the perfect fit.

Christopher’s Impact On Our Staff & Students

“I remember meeting Cynthia for the intake and going through his enrollment with her. Chris is always a positive light and makes sure to say hi to staff and students when he sees them. He has sat in as a member on his IEP meetings and made the entire team so proud of his growth since he started with us.”

“Chris, our positive ray of sunshine! The first moment he walked into our classroom, it was a perfect fit! Chris has a unique bond with students and staff and adds a new positive energy to the environment! We have continued to watch Chris grow in his independence, academically, socially, and behaviorally. Chris sets a great example to his peers and encourages others (including staff) to not give up and keep trying!”

“When you think of a positive, happy, and friendly person you think of Chris. Chris, while he didn’t want to participate in the sports games himself always wanted to help out his fellow classmates and teammates. Once we started the Sports Manager position for Chris, he quickly took a leadership role with the team. Chris gives motivational speeches during practices and even at some of the games during half time. ”

“I honestly could not imagine our classroom without Chris. His positivity and eagerness to learn and be involved shines bright every day and is contagious throughout the classroom and entire school. Chris has made wonderful friends with his classmates and has established memorable bonds with many of Sierra’s staff members inside and out of his classroom.”

“Chris is such a wonderful student and absolutely brightens my day! He is always positive, always encouraging, and always kind to everyone around him. It is hard not to have a smile on your face when Chris is around. His positive energy picks up everyone around him, whether it be students or staff.”

“Chris is a very kind and caring young man. His smile lights up any room he walks into.  He always has a smile, greeting and a kind word for the staff and his peers. He brings joy into the classroom every day.”

Visit Sierra School of San Diego’s website today to contact us, schedule a tour, and learn more about our school and program.