SJNCS recently received two gifts from one of our parish and school families. Please read the special story below for details.
The Kidders’ St. John Neumann Story
As told by Yvonne Kidder
Beginning the Journey at St. John Neumann Catholic Church and School
St. John Neumann Catholic Church became our parish 22 years ago when we moved here from Florida. After our oldest son attended Knoxville Catholic High School, we fell in love with Catholic school. When our boys came home from Haiti, we knew we wanted them to attend Catholic school as well. One of our sons was so behind academically that we decided to homeschool him, and he graduated from Catholic homeschool. But Wisley and Daniel started at SJNCS in the 5th grade, not knowing if things would work out. SJNCS joined us on our adoption journey and we always knew we would take it one day at a time, and then one year at a time, never taking tomorrow for granted.
In Haiti, metalwork is a common art form and a way for a Haitian to provide for their family. I fell in love with it on my first trip there, and I support Haitian artists whenever I can. We commissioned this piece through a friend, and after a few drawings decided on the final look. We were very excited to see our idea come to us exactly as we had envisioned it. With the help of our daughter, Elizabeth (who teaches Art at SJNCS), we were able to finish the piece with her painting it the SJNCS “Mustang” green color.
From the very beginning, my boys were behind academically and required additional support to succeed: mentoring, tutoring, extra time, a caring and loving environment, and various accommodations. We felt confident that if they just tried hard, with a little help they would succeed. We received this help and support at SJNCS from many saints there: Sabrina Talley, Michelle Dougherty, Rebecca Baker, Kathy Aucker, and all of Wisley’s and Daniel’s teachers and aides. We all traveled this journey together: the SJNCS staff developing the learning lab that would provide assistance to students with special needs, and our kiddos leading the way for students who would come after them. The door was cracked open, but with SJNCS’ commitment to work with my ESL/LD sons, the door was then fully opened. Without the SJNCS faculty and staff’s “fiat”, my boys would be struggling in public school today.
The SJNCS Learning Lab has a special place in our hearts because it takes students who need just a little extra help and gives them a chance at success, whatever that may look like for them. For my sons, that was not only surviving, but thriving at SJNCS, and then ultimately graduating with the skills to attend Knoxville Catholic High School. We know in an ever-evolving, tech-filled world there will be technologies that help kids who need that little extra something, and we hope our support of the learning lab helps in some small way.
“This is a story of many special gifts: the Kidder family, our parish and our school, our loving faculty and staff, and the gifts provided by a Catholic school education. This beautiful Haitian artwork is a fitting tribute to the journey taken together by the Kidder family and St. John Neumann Catholic Church and School.
Furthermore, the Kidders’ gift of financial support to the SJNCS Learning Lab will provide many other students the life-changing educational experience from which their children benefited as well.” – Fr. Joe Reed, Pastor of St. John Neumann Catholic Church and School