Tosa teachers team with Children's Hospital to keep sick children up on studies

WAUWATOSA -- Eight-year-old Jasper Mackey seems like any other second grader.  He enjoys playing with his brothers and wants to be a team mascot someday.  But every two months, Jasper ends up at Children's Hospital for treatment.

\"Jasper missed half of kindergarten, half of first grade,\" mother Jennifer Mackey said.

The family knew something wasn't right when Jasper wouldn't eat any foods -- even ice cream -- and was extremely under-weight.

\"He wanted nothing and then he would just shut himself off,\" Mackey said.  \"He'd rather go to bed.\"

Months of testing revealed Jasper is allergic to nearly all foods.  Spending weeks at a time in the hospital meant Jasper needed to keep up on school.

\"They might be a little timid when they first come in,\" teacher Delynne Jones said.

Jones works for the Wauwatosa School District.  Every day from noon to 3 p.m., she teaches Jasper reading, spelling and math in a classroom at Children's.

\"He's always eager to do his work, he never complains, which is really nice,\" Jones said of Jasper.  \"He comes in with a good attitude.\"

Teresa Beronja has spent eight years teaching students through the program.  She'll visit patients by their beds if they're unable to come to the classroom.

\"Give a little distraction for all the things that they're here for and just feeling really good about themselves as a whole,\" Beronja said.  \"Provide a little normalcy for their day.\"

Students bring work assigned from teachers back home and the Tosa teachers will contact districts to make sure kids like Jasper stay on track.

\"We don't go home behind,\" Mackey said.  \"We go home and we've been working on all the skills that he needs to be working on still.\"

Important and rewarding lessons for jasper and the teachers who help.

\"Awesome, it's such a joy to provide that sense of, 'This is what I need to do, this is how I can do it,'\" Beronja said.  \"Beyond what they're here for, they're still that normal child that would be in their classroom.\"


At last check, Jasper had gone eight days without his feeding tube -- also known as a 'Mickey' tube.  The Mackey family hopes to take Jasper to Disney World when he feels up to it.

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