Seventh-grader gives emotional speech in front of large crowd, graciously thanking his teachers
Joandrew Garcia Llanos, a 13-year-old seventh-grader, had a chance to celebrate the CCISD teachers and other amazing Driscoll staff who helped him keep up with his schoolwork while he was hospitalized.
On March 25, Driscoll Children’s Hospital was honored with the Service Learning for Achievement Award for our ongoing support of the hospital-based School on 8T. The yearly event recognizes businesses, organizations and individuals who support Corpus Christi Independent School District (CCISD) through financial contributions and volunteerism.
“At the event, one of our star students, Joandrew Garcia Llanos, started off the program by giving a heartfelt speech thanking Driscoll for the support we provide to the program that has given him so much,” said Robin Smith, Director of Patient and Family Services, who manages the program and was there to accept the award on behalf of Driscoll.
Robin had only admiration for the educators who guide students during a difficult time in their lives.
“The program has bloomed with the leadership of our Senior Teacher, Marie Soza; our amazingly creative Teacher, Sumer Duhon; and our ever so sweet Assistant Teacher, Belia DeLeon,” said Robin.
A new atmosphere can be daunting for a new student, but for Joandrew, the student became the teacher.
“Students like Joandrew come to the school the first few times timid and shy, not knowing what to expect, but with encouragement and support, quickly learn the ropes and soon become the welcome wagon for our new students. Joandrew took part in mentoring and assisting new students to come out of their shell and helped give them a sense of belonging,” said Sumer.
Along with the incredible work done daily by Driscoll teachers, Marie, Sumer and Belia attended the event when Joandrew delivered his first speech. Marie, Sumer and Belia cried tears of joy as they watched him shine.
“It was wonderful to watch these amazing women who dedicate so much to this program give Joandrew the emotional support he needed before he stood up in front of hundreds of guests to give his first public speech. It was a proud moment for all,” said Robin.
The Driscoll Hospital School Program is particularly heartfelt for Senior Teacher Marie Soza, who lost her six-year-old son, Blaise Christian, to cancer. Marie was previously a teacher who stayed home with her kids and had no plans to return to teaching. After her son died in 1996, she helped start a residency training program. This offered residents an opportunity to rotate in home environments, so they could see what it was like to live in and manage a home with a child with significant medical needs. Marie was one of the first members of the Family Advisory Board.
“I took something bad that happened in my life and tried to make something positive out of it. I didn’t want his death to mean nothing. I came back and we started the program; I knew that I could make a difference here,” said Marie.
Driscoll Children’s Hospital has collaborated with CCISD since 2007, providing a fun and safe place for hospitalized children to continue their education while they undergo care and treatment, sometimes for months at a time. While CCISD provides the teachers, Driscoll provides the space, school supplies, learning tools like games, computers, IPads as well as volunteers and support teachers.
“We are blessed to be considered part of the team for the patients/students at Driscoll Children's Hospital. The partnership we have with the hospital enables our students to continue with their education so that it easily enables them to assimilate back into their school program. That is our goal, but while they are here, we are more than teachers and students: we are a family,” said Marie.