The Johnson Family

 In Special Appeals

To say that Tucker Maxon is near and dear to my heart would be an understatement. Just four years ago, my husband and I felt defeated wondering about the options for Brady’s future. At that time, living in Fargo, North Dakota, we often agonized over our sweet four-year-old that had been recently activated with bilateral cochlear implants, who also had neurological obstacles hindering his progress. Despite hours of therapy, home visits and schooling, he wasn’t making the typical language gains expected. Knowing we were in the midst of our small window of language opportunity, a brave decision needed to be made.

So in 2011, we moved our family to Portland to take a huge leap of faith on a small school I’d only heard about – Tucker Maxon – one we hoped would provide the listening and spoken language services our son, Brady, so desperately needed. You see, when we arrived at Tucker Maxon, Brady was extremely delayed, both verbally and socially. At 4-years-old, he had only 25 words in his spontaneous vocabulary, most of which could only be understood by his dad and me. Yet the staff at Tucker Maxon accepted him and welcomed us with open arms.

While the transition in year one proved difficult, Brady’s subsequent years presented notable moments in his development. I vividly remember witnessing, with tears in my eyes, the first time he initiated a conversation with a boy at the park. “Hi. I Brady. What you name?” Then later it was the satisfaction of realizing for the first time that a stranger understood his request without my translation. And lately, it is the smile on my face when I overhear the natural turn-taking and fluidity of conversation as he converses with his little brother, Beckett. These typically un-noteworthy milestones are celebrations of success at our house, because we know just how far Brady’s come and how hard he had to work for each gradual step.

Yet, I know that none of this would be possible without the dedicated support of all the teachers and specialists at Tucker Maxon. Despite his unpredictable spirit, they truly love him unconditionally. You can see it in how they treat him and interact with him on a daily basis; always with a smile on their face. But even more than that, they have a genuine relationship with him. I love that every one of his teachers could tell you that his favorite author is Mo Willems and that he loves books about geography. They know that he has a current fascination with airports and Portland street maps and all things golf. They take the time to research and talk about those topics with him. Even more, they use those keys to motivate him and tailor lessons that align with his interests and his learning style – all to bring out the best in Brady. These teachers know when to let him figure it out, when to give a directional push and when he just needs a pat on the back. By combining these characteristics with their huge hearts, the teachers at Tucker Maxon have made all the difference in the world for Brady and our family.

And what a transformation it’s been. Before I would hope and plead for him to talk about anything – and now I sometimes find myself wishing for a break from his incessant questions. Four years later, we’ve got ourselves a talker and an increasingly intelligible one at that. And while he still has a ways to go, it’s the beginning of the dream I’ve always wanted for him. That’s the impact of Tucker Maxon.

I’m so glad we took a chance on this gem of a school four years ago. I don’t exaggerate when I say Tucker Maxon has been a game changer and a miracle maker. So I offer a humbling, yet heartwarming thank you to all the Tucker Maxon teachers and staff that have made a positive impact on my boys. And also a big thank you to all of the donors that support the mission of Tucker Maxon. You really are making a difference in the lives of children.

Without your support, the school could not do this work. Since contributions comprise over half of the school’s budget, I hope you will join us and contribute to Tucker Maxon today. Your gift will go towards providing an array of specialized programs and services that make Tucker Maxon one of a kind.

With gratitude,

Katie Johnson, Brady’s mom


Help children like Brady by donating today

Your gift of:
  • $100 – could provide a complete audiology evaluation for a child who is deaf
  • $250 – could provide 15 individual tutoring sessions with a certified teacher of the deaf
  • $500 – could provide new art, music or PE equipment for all our students
  • $1,000 – could provide nine therapy sessions with our speech language pathologist
  • $2,500 – could provide classroom supplies for five classrooms for an entire year
  • $5,000 – could provide a year of early intervention services for an infant who is deaf
  • $10,000 – could provide annual tuition for a preschool student from a low-income background
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