Silent CHA-mpion, Chloe Takes the Bee!

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Though Chloe is a demure 4th grader at Chapel Hill Academy, her presence speaks volumes. Earlier this year, as she took the stage at CHA in front of hundreds of spectators for the school’s annual spelling bee. You could feel her fellow students had a soft spot for the soft-spoken Chloe. When she spelled the first word with such confidence, the crowd cheered.

This is Chloe’s first year at CHA, and her first few months were a struggle. Chloe is bright and works hard, but she experiences selective mutism. She is capable of speech, but the anxiety disorder prohibits her from speaking in specific situations or even to specific people, especially authority figures.

“The first few weeks of school were difficult for Chloe,” said Mr. Maynard, her math and science teacher. “She wouldn’t speak to any of the teachers, let alone other students. She would be brought to tears if you called on her in class. She still won’t ask questions aloud.”

Chloe is from the Philippines and speaks English as well as some Tagalog, a Filipino language of which Mr. Maynard has a basic knowledge. Mr. Maynard and Mrs. Monroe, Chloe’s reading and social studies teacher, struggled to involve her in class activities but have patiently nurtured Chloe along. They watched her closely and knew when to push and when to pull back. They made her comfortable.

“When we tell jokes or have fun in class, you can see Chloe giggle and smile,” Mrs. Monroe said. “She has a big personality. She doesn’t show it often, but you can tell she is feeling more confident and comfortable in school.”

After just a few short months at her new school, Chloe had to bravely stand up in front of her entire class and participate in her classroom’s spelling bee. Showing the confidence of a seasoned competitor, she won. Chloe went on to the school finals and persevered through 14 rounds to become CHA’s Top Spelling Champion.

“I would say she may have partially conquered some fears,” said CHA principal Vicki Sendejo. “We are so blessed to have such an unbelievably talented and passionate staff who truly care about bringing out the best in each individual student no matter where they are or what challenges they bring with them.”