A Child Finally Learns to Love School | Hillsides

A Child Finally Learns to Love School

Left to right: Trisha Lopez and Jennifer Baugham

Jennifer Baugham’s son Aedan, 11, suddenly changed in first grade. A previously happy child, he became easily frustrated and stressed. His emotions would overtake him, and his coping mechanism was either to run away or start a fight. Jennifer sought out professional help, and Aedan was diagnosed with ADHD and a mood disorder.

Due to his behavioral challenges, Aedan began to hate school and fell behind. Jennifer, a teacher, spent summers tutoring him to get him up to speed for the next school year. However, this approach began to strain their relationship. Last summer, Jennifer realized that Aedan needed a specialized school that could meet his therapeutic needs. Impressed by HEC’s classroom mental health support and small student to teacher ratio, Jennifer enrolled Aedan in HEC.

From almost the start, Jennifer has seen positive changes in Aedan.  Where before he would come home and tantrum until bedtime, now he sits down and finishes his homework without even being prompted. Due to his academic achievements, he was asked to be a peer mentor to other students, tutoring them in English. And the biggest transformation of all: He loves going to school.

“His sense of self-worth has improved so much,” says Jennifer. “He feels successful there.”

She credits his success to many factors, including the individual and group therapy Aeden receives at the school and the school’s GROWTH program, a rewards-based step-by-step curriculum that stresses emotional-social growth.

Another factor is the school’s behavior modification support. If Aedan acts out, such as tries to bolt out the door from class, the staff presents him with consequences of leaving and offers him incentives to stay. His behavior is charted each day with points for positive behavior.  

Jennifer also appreciates the school’s policy of open communication.  “They aren’t afraid to tell me about the bumps in Aedan’s day,” she says. This is helpful for her because she can use this information to gauge Aedan’s progress and determine what outside supports he needs.

Aedan’s teacher, Trisha Lopez, has been another factor in his success. “He loved her instantaneously," says Jennifer. “She is so nurturing and loving, yet not afraid to hold the line.”

The 2016-2017 school year is almost over, and Aedan is already looking forward to next year. There is only one school where he can see himself in the fall, and that’s Hillsides Education Center.


We provide home-based family care (formerly known as foster care) to help children and youth heal from the effects of trauma. Included in the home-based care are treatment and adoption services for children and youth ranging from newborn to 21 years old. >
Our centers offer numerous community-based programs and services that provide parenting classes, mental health support, and additional crucial resources for vulnerable children and families throughout Los Angeles County, including the San Gabriel Valley and Pasadena. >
We offer comprehensive family support and individual mental health treatment for children and adolescents, ages 6 to 17. This program includes a Residential Treatment Center (RTC), a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), as well as coordinated family and aftercare programming. >
Youth Moving On, with support from The Everychild Foundation, provides former foster youth affordable quality housing and numerous support services to help them become responsible, self-sufficient adults. >

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