Extra - Online NewsletterFebruary 2018

Alumni join forces to create special school 

As the American proverb goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” That also succinctly sums up the birth of one of the newest private schools in Lubbock, Texas, thanks to a few Wayland alumni.Nita Key, Lisa Stane, Marsha Sharp

Lisa Stane, BSOE’00 and MAM’17, was perfectly happy in her role as practice manager for the Key Animal Clinic, run by her father, veterinarian Dr. John C. Key, and mother Nita Key, a 1998 alumnus. But at home she was growing increasingly more frustrated with the difficulty of finding adequate educational resources for her son Chase, then a fourth-grader being homeschooled.

“He just could not learn to read, could not learn the phonemics, had trouble with speech and couldn’t say some of his letters,” Lisa recalls. “One of my friends told me he was dyslexic, but I just didn’t want to put a label on him. Then she loaned me a video for teachers to spot dyslexia, and Chase saw something and said, ‘That looks like my book, mommy’ and I realized what we needed to do.”

Lisa and husband Ernest, BSOE’95 and a manager at AT&T, set about to get their son tested and diagnosed, an ordeal on its own, and finally a Lubbock developmental pediatrician confirmed their suspicions: it WAS dyslexia, compounded with dysgraphia, dyspraxia, a motor delay in speech, and an auditory processing disorder. His case was severe and highly rare.

The Stanes enrolled Chase in a local private school where he benefited greatly from a great dyslexia program for two years. But when he got into junior high, all those programs and the accommodations stopped. After several frustrating events, Lisa broke down one afternoon in front of a clinic patient and longtime friend, former Texas Tech coach Marsha Sharp, a 1974 Wayland graduate. She wanted to help.

A vet tech mentioned that he attended a school for dyslexic children in Dallas called Shelton. Lisa and a fellow parent, Tracy Weatherly, planned a road trip within a few weeks and learned how the school operated from the director, who was willing to share their model.

“We drove back to Lubbock planning how to start a school and were open by the next fall,” Lisa recalls. “The two of us took the money we were spending already on private school tuition and tutoring, filed for nonprofit status and rented our first location. My parents and Marsha made donations as well to get us going. Marsha offered to support the school wholeheartedly, and volunteered to be the Chairman of the Advisory Board. It was our first students who voted to name it after Marsha, so Sharp Academy was born.”

In its first year, 2009-10, the academy partnered with a private school and housed there, with Lisa serving as the teacher. The next year, they moved into an independent location and started the year with four students and an additional teacher. They finished the year with 12 students and four employees, and the growth has only continued.

“We now have 65 students in second through 12th grades, and we’re adding kindergarten and 1st grade next fall,” Lisa said. Marsha Sharp with elementary students“We have raised approximately $4.5 million, through private donations and grants, since the opening of the school, including $1.5 million from the Evelyn M. Davies Family Foundation and the J.T. and Margaret Talkington Family Foundation to provide the seed money to purchase the permanent location. The gym was named in the honor of Ms. Evelyn M. Davies.”

The former Indiana Avenue Baptist Church building at 83rd and Indiana has been a great fit for the fully accredited private Christian school, which offers students fine arts and sports along with a small student-teacher ratio, a full college prep program and the opportunity to earn concurrent college credit through Wayland. As the chief academic officer for Sharp Academy, Lisa makes sure students get plenty of college visits and are empowered to self-advocate for their learning needs.  

Lisa attributes Sharp Academy’s great success to the fact that it meets a great need for a very distinctive population, so much so that families drive long distances to or have moved across the country to bring their children to attend.

“Our curriculum is set for a student with a specified learning disability we are not a behavioral school or a place for emotional or social disorders,” she said. “Our teachers are trained specifically to work with students with language-processing and attention-deficit disorders. Those students can learn in a normal to genius range; they just take in information differently and output it differently. The accommodations just equalize the pace for an even playing field.”

Lisa gives credit to God, and His guidance and blessings to the founding and success of the school, as well as to her mother Nita, who "always set a great example of how to be a leader and still always be a lady. The Lubbock WBU campus and staff have also been a key component in the founding and success of Sharp Academy, since my mom, husband and myself earned five of our combined degrees there, and our students are earning their college credits there." 

Perhaps the most impressive feat has been the confidence that learning successfully has infused the Sharp Academy students and its graduates, including Chase Stane, who was valedictorian of the first graduating class in 2015.

“Chase, who we were told would never read and never finish high school and we should institutionalize – graduated with 37 hours of college credit from Wayland and is halfway to a degree in agribusiness,” she added. “Students realize they can learn and are not stupid, and we see their confidence increase in as little as the first day here.”

From the History Files

Most visitors to the Plainview campus of Wayland believe that Gates Hall was the first building on campus since it is the longest standing (finished in 1911). In truth, another building holds the honor of being the first on campus, even though it is not in existence.

Matador Hall was completed in 1910, a red brick facilityMatador Hall in its early years that originally stood just northwest of the current Gates Hall location. Since Gates Hall was under construction and took several years to complete, Matador was the official home to all offices as well as student dorm rooms for the fledgling college. After Gates Hall was built, offices and classes moved back to the signature columned structure and Matador Hall became solely a dormitory, first for males and soon strictly for females.

Named a few years later for the church that funded the bricking of the building – First Baptist Church in Matador – the stately dorm was home to hundreds of young women before it was finally demolished in the mid-1990s due to disrepair. They even had their own nickname: the Matadorables.

A few years ago, the Hale County Historical Society commissioned a brass ornament of Matador Hall as part of a series of collectible decorations of historical sites on the campus. The Matador ornaments can be purchased at the store at the Jimmy Dean Museum. For more information, contact the store at (806) 291-3665.

Meet your Alumni Board

Caren Smith with her parents, Don and ChristaWhen we say that Wayland is like family, Caren Smith embodies that sentiment. She not only attended Wayland as a student, but she practically grew up on the campus. And she’s been a neighbor of the campus since her student days.

Caren is the daughter of Don, BA’65 and Christa Smith, BA’63, and earned her BA degree in 1992 after taking a brief hiatus to work. She’s been chief controller at Central Plains Center in Plainview for 21 years. With her mother serving 40 years on Wayland’s faculty, she was on campus regularly and met many students in the family home.

As a student, Caren loved meeting students from all over the world, learning with professors who knew who she was and learning more about herself during the experience. She says, “I loved the family atmosphere around Wayland, no matter where you go. I’ve been to the Kenya campus and felt as at home there as here in Plainview.”

Having served on the alumni board for many years, Caren’s love for the university has only grown. She said it has helped her realize there is “such a legacy of Wayland that I feel most people don’t realize.” Caren encourages all alumni to get involved in whatever way they can after they leave their WBU campus.

“Wayland needs you! Wayland doesn’t just happen; it takes involvement and love of all who have been touched by the university,” she said. “Wayland is a very special place and still is very vital in today’s world.”

And the Survey Says...

When this spring semester kicked off in January, our conference was missing something. Long-time Sooner Conference opponent St. Gregory’s University closed, shuttering its campus in Shawnee, Okla., after the fall semester. After 143 years of existence, the Catholic university was out of business.

The primary reason was financial, no surprise in this highly competitive and challenging time for higher education. Especially private higher education. No specific reasons were given for the financial difficulties for St. Greg’s, but I couldn’t help but wonder what difference the SGU alumni could have made in this situation. Just a few years ago, all-female Sweet Briar College faced a similar threat and its alumni came to the rescue with $12 million in financial assistance over two weeks to save their school.

While Wayland doesn’t face these dire circumstances, the lesson is still applicable: alumni are important to the vibrancy and sustainability of a university. When they are engaged, alums like you really CAN make an impact. Engagement takes on different sizes and shapes, of course, and giving financially is just one aspect of that.

The bottom line is this: We need you. You are walking billboards for the transformational experience that private Christian education can provide, testimonies to what a family like Wayland can mean to students in their formative years. Show your Pioneer pride. Give back. Pay it forward.

Speaking of engagement, 300-plus of you shared your thoughts in our 2017 Alumni Survey. All this data will help us continue shaping an alumni relations program that helps keep you engaged with Wayland whether you’ve been out 2 years or 42 years. We appreciate all who weighed in, and we are grateful for the incredibly helpful feedback.

We wanted to share with you some of the data summary in case you’re interested in what we learned too. You can find that here

Insurance Partnership Benefits You

Talk about a win-win: Wayland alumni get access to quality insurance for home, auto or life (as well as several other categories!) and the university receives a dividend off any policies sold. Those donations help us continue to grow our alumni programming that ultimately benefits YOU, our alums!

We want to make sure you are aware of the possibilities to get your family insured through reputable vendors working with Meyer & Associates, such as Liberty Mutual. Because of this Wayland-endorsed partnership, you may see communications directly from Liberty Mutual making you aware of various special programs available to WBU grads like you. You are under no obligation, of course, but if you have a need for insurance, go ahead and let the Liberty Mutual folks run you a quote! What could it hurt? If you want to learn more now, here's the Meyer & Associates page.

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