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Author Topic: Heather M. Lewis (17 yrs old)  (Read 4339 times)
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« on: December 26, 2007, 12:36:23 pm »

Heather Lewis, 17, of Townville, a junior at Pendleton High School browses through her laptop computer as a homebound program student. Ms. Lewis deals with epilepsy, narcolepsy, connective tissue disorder, autoimmune disease, asthma, and other health issues, a list of ailments which without medicine shuts down to an exhausted person wanting to sleep.  
Heather Lewis, 17, of Townville, right, and parent Rick Riner, left, talk about goals for the future, and the hurdles of her health, such as seizures, which have forced her to be a Pendleton High School homebound program student.
Heather Lewis, 17, of Townville, a junior at Pendleton High School is a homebound program student as she deals with epilepsy, narcolepsy, connective tissue disorder, autoimmune disease, asthma, and other health issues. Her solitary goal is to graduate with the class of 2009, and the struggle between her parents and the school has been a test of its own, said parents Rick and Desirae Riner.

Seventeen-year-old Heather M. Lewis of Anderson, SC has been too sick to attend school in the last year, but her solitary goal of graduating with her Pendleton High School Class of 2009 survives, thanks to Anderson School District 4’s homebound teacher program.

But the family is upset with some aspects of that homebound program, which they think has been confusing because of mixed messages they’ve received.

Heather is the daughter of Rick and Desirae Riner, 110 Sue Ella Court, Townville. She and her parents and four younger siblings were forced from their original home in Deltona, Fla., when three destructive hurricanes in succession pummeled central Florida in 2004.

Heather, a slender young woman and animal lover with aspirations of becoming a lawyer, was enjoying her 2006-07 sophomore year at Pendleton High when health problems forced her from the classroom.

Heather suffers from epilepsy, narcolepsy, connective tissue disorder, autoimmune disease, asthma and other problems.

“Except for math, I love my schoolwork and I try to ignore all of that other stuff and concentrate,” she said.

But sometimes the illnesses are hard to ignore. Sometimes there are seizures and sometimes demanding therapy intervenes. Sometimes the 18 medications she must endure daily take their toll and concentration becomes difficult.

So the school district has sent a teacher to the Riner home four times weekly through the final five months of the 2006-07 school year and the first four months of the 2007-08 school year.

The visiting instructor uses lesson plans provided by Heather’s seven Pendleton High teachers.

“It’s a wonderful program that means the world to us,” Mrs. Riner said.

“The teacher that comes to our home is kind and dedicated and inspires Heather to learn,” she said. “A couple of the teachers at the high school have been supportive and compassionate and encouraging too, but the others have kind of ignored Heather and that hurts.”

The Riners said they were shocked to receive a formal warning letter from the high school saying Heather had failed one or more classes and could be retained, or denied graduation.

Dated Nov. 7, the letter was sent by school guidance counselors.

Mrs. Riner said her daughter was originally enrolled in an art class, one of her favorite pastimes, but because of her health problems, she now lacks the physical control to draw or paint or sculpt. Heather had asked several times to be dropped from the art class, her mother said.

Since she had not participated in the class, the school warned she could be failed.

“Of course it was just that they kept Heather enrolled in art without our knowledge but it was mean to send that letter and it upset Heather very much,” Ms. Riner said. “She is passionate about learning and about school.”

The District 4 executive in charge of the homebound program said she has heard Mrs. Riner’s lament and was satisfied Pendleton High teachers were providing needed materials on a timely basis.

“I think these teachers are not only doing their jobs but going the extra mile for Miss Riner as well,” said Beverly L. Romansky, director of special services.

“There were many times when these teachers attempted to communicate with Heather and the Riners and failed because the family changed addresses, changed phone numbers and went for quite a while without Internet.”

Mr. and Mrs. Riner said they moved “three doors down” this year from a rental home to a family owned home, suffering unanticipated communication lapses.

“Those teachers could still have reached us if only through the visiting teacher,” said Mrs. Riner.

“It seems like there are some people at the school who have given up on Heather and who don’t want to help.”

But Ms. Romansky said the school district is doing all it can to help Heather.

« Last Edit: December 26, 2007, 12:39:19 pm by Admin » Logged

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