Quite frequently, Tamassee DAR School receives requests for updates on the closing of the residential program and the transition to a community based educational provider. For many years, Tamassee was a safe shelter for children whose home lives were marked by traumatic experiences. Changes in government funding and the rules associated with social service placements made it necessary for Tamassee to change course. Our program focus transitioned to supporting the work of the public schools by offering an educationally based Afterschool Program with a strong emphasis on good citizenship, enrichment activities, and resiliency skill development.
Our new programs provide an increased opportunity to impact the lives of the students we serve. Once an infant enters the Tamassee Early Childhood Learning Center our goal is to continuously serve them through the 8th grade. Imagine the solid impact those additional years will allow us to make on their education. In the past, we immediately embraced every new residential child that entered our gates, but in recent years, they were revolving far too fast for us to make a more lasting impact in their lives. There were many disappointed people in the community and across the country when the closing of the residential program was announced, but none more devastated that the staff who had loved and served those children. It was a very sad time as we watched the children relocated to their next stage. We worked closely with the responsible agency and caregivers to see them placed in what we prayed was a permanent home. To our joy, a staff member was granted custody of one of the precious elementary students in our care at the time. Today they are a reminder of our past and inspiration to us all to continue to serve those in need.
Currently, the Afterschool Program does not receive funding from the state or federal government. The program is fee based to enrolled families and dependent upon Bridge Scholarship donations for those who struggle financially. We are located in a rural area sprinkled with poverty so consequently, several of the students we serve benefit from some form of financial assistance. This school year, we have served 17 students including one who is homeschooled and attends afterschool with us every day. Most of the students are in elementary school which is a perfect time to focus them on the power of education and good citizenship. We are extremely proud of the progress they have made as their January testing scores showed 100% had improved in math and 82% in reading. Each one had advanced an average of 1 grade level. That’s amazing considering the educational impacts on the public schools due to COVID.
Our students are developing a love of learning, a desire to understand, and the ability to logically form their own educated opinions. With your blessings and support, the Place of the Sunlight of God will continue to help children live better lives!