Duke Endowment funds new program at Nazareth Children’s Home

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Sarah Nagem
Two organizations in Rowan County received grants from the Duke Endowment this year ó one to start a school program for children with mental disorders, the other to set up a church nurse program.
This month, the endowment announced it will award Nazareth Children’s Home in Rockwell a total of $400,000.
Woodleaf United Methodist Church is getting a $45,000 grant.
At Nazareth Children’s Home, $50,000 will be used to maintain national accreditation. The other $350,000 will go toward a new school program that caters to students with mental disorders.
A summer session for New Bridge Academy, as the program is called, began this week for some students, said Denise Linton, director of the project.
“These are kids that are having a lot of issues at school,” Linton said. “They’ve been suspended, they’re just not making it at their regular schools due to their mental-health diagnoses.”
The program can accept up to 12 elementary students and 12 middle school students. The staff includes a teacher, program manager and two behavior technicians, Linton said.
The Rowan-Salisbury School System is partnering with the program and making referrals, she said. Once school starts after summer break, school buses will transport students to New Bridge Academy on the campus of Nazareth Children’s Home.
Students from Stanly, Cabarrus, Davidson and Union counties can attend, too, but transportation is not provided, Linton said.
Students who attend the program will complete the regular school curriculum. But Linton said they will also participate in daily group therapy, therapeutic recreation activities and hands-on learning exercises.
Many of the students who will likely attend the program have a history of failing end-of-grade tests, Linton said.
At New Bridge, students will get lots of individual attention. The staff-to-student ratio will be one to three.
“Their attendance improves,” Linton said. “Their social skills improve.”
The goal is for students to return to their regular schools after about nine months, although Linton said some kids might finish sooner or stay longer.
The money to Woodleaf United Methodist Church is to set up a parish nurse program.
No one could be reached at the church Tuesday afternoon.
This year, The Duke Endowment, which is based in Charlotte, awarded more than $110 million in grants. Philanthropist James B. Duke established the endowment in 1924.
Since then, more than $2 billion has been awarded to organizations across the Carolinas to improve education, health care, rural churches and children’s services.