Tutoring program helps St. Jude patients keep up with school

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - With the school year well underway, it's easy for a child to get behind if they miss even one day of class. Just imagine what happens to a child too sick to attend classes at all.

Luckily, there's a special program at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital that is helping patients keep their grades up.

Ask spunky 3rd grader David Campbell a math problem and he's quick to reply. That fast-thinking free spirit never ceases to amaze his teacher.

"I do math, science," David said. "I learned about plant cells and animal cells."

David has worked hard all summer to solve problems much greater than addition. He is battling cancer.

"One time in Christmas, I think I almost lost myself," David said.

Last year, doctors in Honduras diagnosed David with a rare form of Leukemia. His family moved from an island off the coast of Central America to the heart of Downtown Memphis for treatment.

"I mean they heal the whole kid," said David's grandfather, Thomas Campbell. "And they need the school. A few months out of school, you may catch up. But 2 1/2 years, you're going to fall well behind, and this school program makes a really big difference with him."

Thomas said David started classes at the St. Jude School Program while undergoing chemo.

Inside the classroom, patients get one-on-one instruction from trained educators.

"The most important part of our school program at St. Jude is to have a sense of normalcy for our kids," said teacher Kaci Richardson. "It's something that they do at home and it's something that they can continue at this hospital while they're receiving their treatment."

Aside from lessons with his personal teacher, David also takes Spanish classes to keep his native language alive.

Teachers follow the curriculum from each child's original school, teaching patients wherever they are throughout the hospital.

"These cancer patients can't attend school while they're here receiving treatment," Thomas said. "It would be impossible. A private tutor would be difficult and probably beyond the financial capability that a lot of us have being here and not being able to work."

At St. Jude the kids get A-plus treatment for a their mind, body, and spirit.

"I could've never existed if they, if it wasn't for them," David said.

David's medical treatment and schooling would not be possible without all of the donations made to St. Jude.

WMC Action News 5 is the proud media sponsor of this year's St. Jude Walk/Run, set for Saturday, Sept. 23.

Visit St. Jude's website to sign up or make a donation.

Copyright 2017 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.