Derik's Story

Gillis School has an incentive program for our students called STARS. Each day the students earn points for positive behavior and academic productivity. At the end of the week, if students have earned enough to meet their goal, they earn a STARS Award (it stands for Students that Achieve Responsibility and Success). They can then spend reward points in the school store. After earning enough STARS, the students can move up levels. The highest level attainable is Platinum Level. Students that are on Platinum Level have to earn 97% of their points each week!

Our first student to reach Platinum was Derik. Not only did he reach Platinum Level, he remained there for 100 weeks!

Derik came to Gillis because he was having difficulty at his home school. He didn't want to listen to anyone and didn't want to play with the other kids; sometimes he would hit and kick. He was sent to the Principal's office several times a week and his mom was called to pick him up from school often. He was diagnosed with a mood disorder. Gillis was recommended as a school which could help Derik.

His first few months at Gillis were difficult. He didn't want to be here and he wasn't near home. But he bonded with some important people — his teachers, his therapist and the school principal - and things started to get better. His school team worked hard with his family and doctor to help Derik learn different ways to express his feelings. After the first year he wanted to come to school and would get upset when there were holidays or snow days and he couldn't attend.

When he came to Gillis he lived with his mother, Codie, and sister, Talysa. The family dynamic changed when his mother remarried. But, the family came to classes and with the help of Gillis staff, learned how to relate to one another. Derik was taught to use safe coping skills. His Mom learned how to work with Derik when situations arose.

Codie said that Sarah, his therapist, and the other Gillis staff who worked with Derik "are beyond wonderful. We wouldn't be where we are without them."

Derik has left Gillis and is doing well in school. He and the family come back to visit once in a while, and keep in touch often. Codie said that she could not have done it by herself and she is very appreciative of the Gillis "village" which helped Derik become the typical 7th grader he is today.