Deon's StoryDecember 13, 2018

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You’ve been so generous with your support of Elk Hill over the years. Thank you! I could write you a 10-page letter about the work at Elk Hill that you make possible — our specialized schools, our residential treatment programs and our counseling services. Instead, I want to share the story of just one child whose life you’ve transformed: a little boy named Deon.

First-grader Deon couldn’t sit still. He couldn’t stop disrupting class. He couldn’t read at grade level. He couldn’t write.

That’s how his teachers knew him: as the boy who couldn’t.

Then, Deon came to our Elk Hill School for second grade. It didn’t take long for his teacher, Kathy Wilson, to see that Deon was a bright child who craved knowledge. She knew he could achieve anything, once he was given the right tools.

Deon was enrolled in Elk Hill’s intensive literacy intervention program (which you helped to fund). Ms. Wilson also taught Deon strategies to release energy and calm himself, such as bouncing on an exercise ball and regulating his breathing. Soon, an eager student emerged. “Ms. Wilson, do you know the largest mammal in the ocean?” he’d ask excitedly. “Ms. Wilson, do you know the deepest part of the ocean?” Within just a few months, he progressed from a pre-K reading level to a third-grade level.

However, Deon still struggled to control his emotions. One day, he kicked the door and accidentally shattered a glass panel. Ashamed, he had to summon up the courage to tell the principal what he had done. Something shifted inside Deon after this experience. From that day on, he was a different child.

By the spring semester, Deon was ready to return to his home school. When his old school declined to take him back, Deon was heartbroken. “Ms. Wilson,” he said, “what do I have to do to prove myself?”

“You know what, buddy? Keep doing what you’re doing. Because you’re amazing,” she said.

Ms. Wilson assured the school that he could make the transition successfully. And when the time came, Ms. Wilson was by his side. On Deon’s first day back, she sat near him in the classroom. He kept turning around to make sure that she was there. And she was, because your support allows our teachers to invest time in their students. She visited twice more, sitting farther away each time, and then scheduled monthly lunch dates with him in the cafeteria.

Since then, Deon has thrived.

Without Elk Hill — and without you — Deon would still be trapped in a cycle of outbursts and discipline, unable to achieve his potential. Together, we changed his life.

However, our work together is not done. In the 2017-18 fiscal year, we served 667 children across Central Virginia who, like Deon, need specialized support, education and therapy. By 2020, we want to serve 750. We can’t do it without you!

Medicaid and public support are not enough to fund our services, so we need your help. Your tax-deductible gift gives Elk Hill the ability to reach each child exactly when they need help, just as Ms. Wilson did for Deon.

Your donation makes all the difference in a child’s life. All of us at Elk Hill thank you for your continuing support, and for believing in the potential of our youth.


With warm regards,




Michael C. Farley
Chief Executive Officer

Posted in: Charlottesville , Early Intervention , Elk Hill News , Schools