WYLIE –– Xander Wade is attending class for the first time, even though he physically can't go to school. His mother pushed the Wylie Independent School District to not give up on the five-year-old. And now, a high tech tool is helping him learn.
It's 8:15 in the morning in Mrs. Skipwith's kindergarten class at Hartman Elementary. They're getting ready for story time. But one student, Xander Wade, isn't in the classroom.
Well, not exactly.
Xander can't go to school. He was born with six congenital heart defects. By the time he was three, he had already undergone three open-heart surgeries for the rare autoimmune disorder. His stomach and bladder don't work. He's on a feeding tube. He experiences chronic pain every day.
"We started explaining that he couldn't go and he was devastated," said Marsha Wade, Xander’s mother. "He cried and cried, ‘I want to go to school.’"
Mrs. Wade went to the school to see if the principal was willing to have a teacher use Skype so Xander could still be in class without being in class. She received an enthusiastic yes.
Kindergarten teacher Vickie Skipwith embraced the idea. She Skypes with Xander twice a week.
"Just being able to see children and hear what they're saying and the way they're talking, it's just real important," said Skipwith. "He feels like he's a part of something."
Even though he hasn't been there, Xander is still very much a part of the class.
"He may never be in this room, but this teacher has made a place for him here," said Xander’s mother.
And though Xander may never see the inside of a classroom, a heartwarming combination of technology and open hearts is giving him a chance at an education.
"If that's the only way he can become a part of our class, that's just wonderful," said the boy’s teacher.