By Cindy Adams


Sadie Graybill is a free spirit, an eager participant in all things, and she likes to be the first to do each one. She lights up a room. But that toggle goes both ways.

"She’s like a light switch," said Melissa Graybill, Sadie’s mom. "She can go from bright, happy and fun to dark, mad and sad in the click of a button."

Sadie struggles with ADHD, ODD, and a mood disorder. Medications help, but only for short periods of time.

Sadie’s hard-to-control behavior resulted in her being expelled from public school. They tried a two-week intensive program through Intercept, but that did not prove successful for her. They tried half days in public school, also unsuccessfully. That’s when Melissa began talks with Roanoke Minnick School.

"Minnick saved us," Melissa said. "We were talking about residential treatment before we met with them and discussed Sadie’s challenges."

Sadie’s disability manifests itself in rebellion against structure and discipline, the two things that she most needs. Her mom recognizes that she is receiving both at Minnick.

"They have helped her grow up a bit," Melissa said. "They have taught her coping skills and have helped her recognize right and wrong. Her behavior is much better."

Melissa described one morning when Sadie completely fell apart because they did not have the kind of cereal bars she was used to receiving when she arrived each morning. Her routine had been disrupted.

"They were so patient and kind when they called me," Melissa remembered. "Sadie is a full-time job. She has real needs, and the Minnick staff know how to meet those needs. It takes special people to work with Sadie, and I am grateful."

Quanesha Moyer is an assistant teacher in Sadie’s classroom. She sends Melissa an update on Sadie’s progress at the end of every week. If there is a pressing issue, she calls in the moment. Specific and frequent communication builds rapport between teacher and parent.

In the small classrooms, the relationship between teacher and student is enhanced. With no more than 10 students per class, Minnick teachers have the capacity to meet students where they are, identify individual strengths and focus on building those skills. Sadie reads at a high level. She is currently working through chapter books and feeling successful.

To parents considering Minnick, Melissa said, "Give Minnick a chance, and remember your child is there for a reason. For us, there was a honeymoon period, a not-so-great stage, and then everything settled. The teachers are always thinking of the kids and doing for the kids and, ultimately, those kids become better students."