When Hannah came to Cotting School at 10 years old, she was ready for a different school experience. She needed an environment in which she was challenged to reach beyond the familiar, and one where she could help others reach, too.
“You know,” Hannah’s father, Jonathan, emphasizes, “you just know when you walk in the door [that this is the right place]. Everyone is so friendly and welcoming.”
Today, Hannah is confident and functioning academically at a level she was never expected to. She is happy and has friends. She is not nearly as shy as she was when she began school. She plays soccer and basketball and shoots basket after basket with a big grin on her face.
“What I love about Cotting,” says her mother, Pat, “is that the Cotting staff won’t stop until they find the right tool to help meet your child where she is. The minute I say Hannah is frustrated, the next day a new thing comes home to help her."
In addition to her sports activities at Cotting, Hannah participates in gymnastics at the Special Olympics. She takes trips to the mall and other special activities with “Just Us Girls,” a Saturday program for girls with special needs. “And you haven’t lived until you've seen Hannah dance!” Pat says. — Pat and Jonathan
Cotting has been a blessing to Lucas and our whole family. Lucas has grown in so many ways since attending Cotting and becoming part of the Cotting Community. Thanks to Cotting, Lucas is able to participate in sports and be on a team (basketball, soccer, baseball) and feel proud of himself when he is cheered or makes a basket! He enjoys being in Chorus and he actually sang at the concert, to just about everyone's surprise!
He is talking and communicating more and more every day and is able to navigate the school on his own. He has made friends and goes to dances and outings! Lucas is learning how to read, trying hard to write his name, working on the computer, participating in "On The Job" and learning about money.
The staff at Cotting is top-notch, and the carryover from school to home is evident. Lucas is proud of his accomplishments and loves to share them with us. He is more on task at home these days and tries harder every day to communicate his needs. He is calmer, more articulate and more independent.
Cotting’s dental clinic has been so helpful. In the past, Lucas has been so afraid to go to the dentist, so his teacher scheduled him to go weekly to help de-sensitize him. It has worked beautifully! When we went to the dentist at Franciscan Hospital a few weeks ago, he did great and even had x-rays for the first time without having to be put to sleep!
If we have a question or concern for a teacher or someone on the Administrative team at Cotting, there is always someone to talk to. There are answers to be had, which leaves us feeling good, not frustrated. I know my son is in the best possible place he could be, with the best possible supports and staff.
— Moira Mahegan
Our son, Nico, was in a loving environment at school, but the school was not equipped to give him what he needs. He was struggling in third grade: he had a stack of uncompleted math papers, he was not reading well, and he was alone at recess wheeling around the schoolyard. The other students did not want to slow the pace of their games to include him. He withdrew emotionally. His self-esteem started to suffer. Nico couldn’t eat lunch in the ten minutes allocated for it. Each morning before school, he had tremendous anxiety.
We didn’t realize how much he was missing until he came to Cotting. It has been a transformative experience. At Cotting, everybody smiles; there is wonderful energy. The staff are amazing; there is none of that anxiety masked by over-politeness. Because they are experts, the staff exhibit a total natural confidence and a human-to-human response. Their attitude is, “Let’s get to know him as a person.”
Nico is getting the support he needs to learn math. He answers questions that help him sequence information from his reading so he can craft a paragraph. Nico is playing tag at recess; he has gone on playdates. He has even become a bit of a class clown because he feels comfortable and can be his true, extroverted self. What a relief! Nico eats lunch now. He participates in all the activities and plays all the sports. Most importantly, he is a successful student and a successful friend.
The team of therapists and teachers who work with him have suggestions for us on what to do at home to help Nico advance. School and life work together now. Children don’t grow alone; their families grow with them. Nico now has all the supports in place to learn the skills to live an independent life. How wonderful to be able to feel confident that he will do that!" — Billana Angelova and Daniel Bolton
"If you asked me 6 years ago what I wanted to do for a career, I would have said "I don't know" or given you a sarcastic answer. Now I can tell you that I'm going to be a radio host, and I can tell you about the steps I had to take to come to this realization.
My disability has never been just one challenge. I has always been a thousand or more challenges, where one gets fixed or solved and another takes its place. It has been like this my whole life, One challenge or another at home or at school.
When I was younger, most of the other kids kept themselves at a distance from me. They were told I was easily hurt and that meant no one could come near me. Over time this became very lonely for me. When I was almost in third grade, my sister who was one grade ahead of me was following me at "recess" wanting to know what I did. I told her "In the winter I drive in a circle (in my wheelchair), and in the fall and spring I drive in an oval.". To this day my sister still tells people the story about how I would drive in circles for fun during recess at school, and how it left me with a lasting scar. At that time I struggled socially, had no friends, and I didn't like going to school. I did not pay attention. I did not do homework, I was just there.
In middle school, things got worse for me. I was bullied and assaulted, and sank into a dark part of my life. I lost connection with myself, with others, and mostly with my family. When I came to Cotting School I wasn't very interested in school and I didn't think anything could change. My father said "Just try it for one day and see how it goes.". When I arrived at Cotting School I met so many people who have been where I was, and knew what I was going through. I felt as if I had been saved.
At Cotting I sharpened all of my skills. First on my list was getting some new friends. I knew that going through life alone was not what I wanted to do, but I found myself very nervous and shy. The only thing going through my head was that I was the new kid. I did not want the other people around me to think I was weird, so I kept to myself and I was quiet. At that time I met my best friends Dan and Tessa who were standing over in the corner arguing about something silly. I joined in with a funny comment. Tho this day, they still argue about nothing and I still join in with a funny comment. At this time in my life, it was a huge success for me to gain friends. Now, my friends inspire me to learn and do well in school. I became the host of a radio show through my Project Bridges job, working at Radio Perkins (you can even listen to my radio show, online). Having one of the best teachers I've ever had also helped me a lot, but it was mostly me putting in the work.
I have got better at everything and I'm at the point where I want to learn more. I set my sights on higher education because I want to learn more than what I have learned in high school. As I move on with my education, I hope to major in Media and Communication which will help me become the best version of myself. When I finish, I hope to get a job as a radio host, so that I can make people laugh on a worldwide scale. Finally, when I have the attention of my audience, and they have finished laughing, I can educate them using my experiences and the knowledge of my past." — Tom Buckley