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For Parents

The St. Jude School Program by Chili’s


The St. Jude School Program by Chili’s is available to assist your child with keeping up with their classwork while away from home.

After your child is referred to School Program, a staff member will meet with you and your child during a new-patient consult. At that time, we will collect basic information, such as name of your home community school, your child’s grade level and the length of time you expect to stay at St. Jude.

The School Program teacher assigned to your child will contact his or her home school and determine the best way we can help with your child’s academic work. Your child will receive school services in one of the following ways based on the treatment plan and time at St. Jude:

  1. Home-bound services in the home community, including Memphis and surrounding areas
  2. Hospital-bound services at St. Jude

Home-bound services

The School Program strives to provide each student with a continued sense of normalcy throughout treatment. One way we do this is by allowing students to stay enrolled in their home community schools.

Some children need home-bound services either in the Memphis area or in their home community outside Memphis. We can help parents arrange for these services. To authorize home-bound services, your child’s doctor will typically need to sign a document explaining the child’s illness. This will either be a letter from the doctor or a form provided by your child’s school system. The School Program staff can assist in getting the form signed or obtaining the doctor’s letter.

School Program

Hospital-bound services

Hospital bound educational services are provided mainly to patients who live outside the Memphis area and who are at St. Jude for treatment. Patients from the Memphis area can be seen by a St. Jude teacher if they do not have access to homebound services.

The student’s school can keep your child enrolled and place your child on home-bound status. Our teachers will then take the place of your child’s community teacher until you return home. Upon returning home, your child will have an easier transition back into the classroom or will be assigned a home-bound teacher from your community.

We encourage the use of books and assignments from each patient’s community school. The St. Jude teacher assigned to work with your child will contact the community school to request books and assignments. Assignments can be sent to St. Jude by fax, mail or email. We will provide curriculum materials if it is not possible to get assignments from your child’s community school.

Each child enrolled in the School Program receives at least three hours of instruction each week. Once enrolled in hospital-bound services, your child will attend class regularly and will have homework to complete.

The classrooms are open every day. Please check with your child’s teachers to find out what hours they are available for instruction.

School Program

English as a Second Language services

Patients whose native language is not English can attend English as a Second Language classes. Once a student reaches intermediate to advanced level of English proficiency, he or she may transition to complete their academic courses in English.

Bilingual instruction is available to Spanish-speaking patients who want to complete their school work in their native language.

Tutoring services

We offer tutoring services to patients in kindergarten through 12th grade. Tutors are retired teachers, scientists and test-prep professionals who are experts in their fields.

The service is for students who:

  • need extra help mastering a skill
  • need to complete homework while at St. Jude for check-ups
  • want a quiet place to work or study while waiting for clinic appointments

We also offer enrichment opportunities for students. A monthly calendar of available tutors is displayed in the School Program suite. 

ACT and SAT exams

An important milestone in many high school students’ educational careers is taking the ACT or SAT college entrance exams. We make sure high schools students have access to preparatory and test-taking services while they are at St. Jude.

Preparation for ACT or SAT exams has two parts: The application process and study/preparation for the actual exam.

Due to fatigue and treatment schedules, our patients usually need accommodations such as extra time or taking the test over multiple days. In order for that to happen, certain documentation must be included in the application. St. Jude School Program staff can help you organize these materials and fill out the application so your child receives the accommodations.

View accommodations letter template >

We want to make sure our patients have the opportunity to learn about the exams and to understand how to successfully take them. We work with a local organization called Get to College to provide regular ACT/SAT workshops at St. Jude for our patients. This allows patients to prepare and study for the exams and gain important test-taking tips to improve their scores. For more test prep material, you may purchase a program called eknowledge at a discounted rate.

Contact the School Program to learn about the next workshop.

School reintegration services & advocacy

It is sometimes hard for patients to return to school, especially if their appearance has changed due to hair loss or other side effects of their illness or treatment. The amount of time spent out of school and away from the structure of the school day can also make the transition difficult. To help smooth the transition, we offer assistance for school reintegration.

School Program staff can contact your child’s school to discuss how your child’s diagnosis and treatment will impact their return to school. Our staff can also discuss options for continuing the patient's education, which may include full-time school attendance, part-time school attendance with part-time homebound services, or full-time homebound school services.

For patients who live in the Memphis area, St. Jude staff can attend school meetings to discuss school reintegration plans with school staff. We can help them to understand the support your child may need to return to school.

For patients who live outside of the Memphis area, School Program staff can be included in a conference call with parents and school staff to provide the same information.

Each child is an individual, and each child's school reintegration program is designed to meet the needs of that child.

Learn about School Program services for teachers and other school personnel >

School Program

Sometimes when patients return to school they need special education services such as:            

  • resource class assistance
  • accommodations in the regular classroom
  • physical, occupational or speech therapy services.

Federal laws require that public schools provide these services to students who meet certain criteria.

School Program staff can help you and your child seek such services. We can also provide you with details about relevant federal laws. School program staff can attend a meeting at the school or be on a conference call with you and your child to discuss these services.

Learn about special education services and the federal laws that require these services:

Long-term survivors

Research has shown the impact of cancer can continue long after therapy and remission. Long-term effects of treatment can potentially impact survivors for the rest of their lives, including problems with learning and cognition. Learning difficulties typically are evident within two to five years after treatment has ended.

Problems are usually noted in mathematics, spatial relationships, memory, problem solving, attention span, processing speed and concentration skills. These late effects can cause changes in the way a child learns as well as his or her social behavior. It is important that parents and school personnel remain aware of potential learning problems to allow for quick intervention.

The School Program has a liaison on staff. The school liaison serves as a contact to the school system’s personnel to advocate for the educational needs of long-term cancer survivors. The liaison can:

  • Discuss and resolve academic problems with students, parents and school counselors.
  • Collaborate with St. Jude personnel, such as St. Jude staff in the departments of psychology, rehabilitation services and social work. They can help understand each patient’s needs and make recommendations for the classroom setting.
  • Attend Individual Educational Plan (IEP) and 504 Plan meetings for patients in person or through conference calls.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. A patient can be referred to the School Program by parents or staff. You can contact the School Program Director or any of the School Program teachers about School Program services. You can also request that your child’s physician or other clinic staff order a School Program Consult.

  2. The School Program staff can assist by making phone calls to the patient’s community school to explain the importance of using books and other materials from the home school. If this is unsuccessful, we will use our own materials to create an appropriate curriculum for the patient. In doing so, we will strive to continue to work with the community school to make sure they accept our curriculum.

  3. Yes, we can send written materials to school personnel to help them understand the issues our patients face in returning to the school environment. School Program staff can also talk with school personnel and be available for school meetings either in person for local patients or by conference call for those patients outside the Memphis area.

  4. Contact the School Program Director or ask clinic staff to order a School Program Consult in MILLI. School Program staff can help you understand your rights under federal laws that govern the provision of special services in the school. We can also contact school personnel to advocate for your child’s needs.

  5. The St. Jude School Program does not provide teachers or tutors for brothers or sisters of patients. You can enroll siblings in a private or public school in the Memphis area. Parents can also arrange with the child’s community school to send and receive assignments while the child is away from school. Parents will serve as the child’s teacher, but assignments can be sent by fax to St. Jude School Program staff. Staff members can help send the completed work back to the child’s community school.