Finding his Independence

“Trent” arrived at United Way-supported St. Mary’s Child Center when he was 3 years old – a sweet little boy, but tremendously shy. He rarely spoke and he’d often stand at the door of his classroom until one of his teachers took his hand and led him in. However, Trent’s real struggle came at lunchtime; he wouldn’t eat. Instead, he would just sit, staring at his food, not making a sound.


Trent’s bus driver, Mr. Van, noticed his behavior and came in to assist. Trent trusted Mr. Van and he began to accept food – but only if it was offered by Mr. Van. It solved the problem of getting Trent to eat, but the St. Mary’s staff knew it wasn’t a long-term solution. So, the classroom team held a ‘staffing’ on Trent, which is a meeting with the school’s social worker, curriculum coach, and teaching team. They implemented several strategies that would help Trent become more independent, and made sure he was supported in other areas of classroom life.


As Trent became more and more comfortable in the classroom, Mr. Van started showing up later and later at lunch. Eventually, the day came when Trent could eat without the support of Mr. Van. Now, he shows up once lunch has begun simply to give Trent a thumbs-up, which always results in a big, ear-to-ear smile.


Next year, Trent will be attending kindergarten. And his teachers know he’s ready because he’s a bright child who knows his colors, letters and numbers. But more importantly, they know he’s ready because they’ve watched him develop from a sweet, shy little boy into a compassionate soul who helps others and engages in the life of the classroom independently.


Thanks to St. Mary’s Child Center and United Way, the staff was equipped to support Trent and foster his independence effectively. Thanks to you, Trent – and so many more kids like him –  have a chance to be successful in kindergarten and beyond!


Note: United Way fights for the education, financial stability, health and basic needs of everyone in our community. St. Mary’s Child Center is a United Way-supported agency addressing one or more of these priorities by providing high-quality early childhood experiences for children ages 3-5 who are impacted by poverty, abuse and violence.