Therapeutic preschool is "life-changing" for families

Sept. 15, 2016: The Helen Ross McNabb Center offers a therapeutic preschool for children who have faced trauma and abuse.

For the past 10 weeks, Marcus Monahan's parents have driven three hours round trip three times a week  to attend the Helen Ross McNabb therapeutic preschool, the only one like it in the state.

It's a lot of driving that the Monahans say is worth it for their 4-year-old.

Katie Monahan said the therapeutic preschool has been “life changing” for Marcus and her family. Monahan’s parents officially adopted him last year.  They began fostering Marcus and his sister three years ago after authorities found them in an abusive home.  Katie Monahan said from day one Marcus was easily frustrated and had difficulties controlling his emotions.

“We came here just really looking for answers and we found them here,” Katie Monahan said wiping away tears. “It's really changed his attitude, his demeanor, everything.”

Monahan graduated from the preschool after completing the outpatient program. The school operates for children who’ve experienced trauma. The preschool is a 10-week outpatient program for children ages 4 and 5.

“The program provides cognitive and developmental stimulation, therapeutic behavioral treatment, nurturing, structure and help with basic skills,” according to Helen Ross McNabb Center’s website.

The preschool also provides case management and therapy services for children ages 2-8. The school is run on grants, donations and help from volunteers.

“This morning when I told him it was his last day he said ‘I don’t want it to be my last day. I love this school.’” Marcus’ mom Katie Monahan said. “After today we’re not coming back here anymore. He said he wanted to come here forever.”

Katie Monahan attributes the preschool’s success to the teachers and to volunteers like Joanie Scheuer.  She has spent the past 13 years bringing lunch, a smile and a helping hand to teachers.

“Even on other days when we don’t have program, they say ‘where’s Mrs. Joanie?’” said child development specialist Kim Rickert. “She brings a lot of joy. That peace that comes with her personality. She’s very loving.”

Scheuer made Marcus Monahan a Spiderman blanket on his last day. Spidey is Marcus Monahan’s favorite superhero. Scheuer creates a keepsake for each child that attends the therapeutic preschool.

“I hope they feel a sense of security and comfort. I really hope they know they are precious,” Scheuer said. “They know that I care for them, we all care for them. They are worthy and loveable and have a real special place in my heart.”

Scheuer said she feels blessed to volunteer at the preschool. The preschool is always looking for donations and volunteers.

(© 2016 WBIR)


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