ORANGE, Calif. (KABC) -- Administrators at a full-inclusion school in Orange are looking forward to Giving Tuesday after the Walton Family Foundation pledged to match $25,000.
Doors opened at Tomorrow's Leadership Collaborative Charter School (TLC) in 2018 for children in transitional kindergarten through fifth grade.
TLC staff said their teaching model was the first of its kind in Orange County and lets every student participate regardless of the language they speak, their socioeconomic status or their special needs.
It was just what Diana Tamparong wanted for her boys. Her youngest has Down syndrome.
"Someone said look out for a school in Orange County called TLC," Tamparong said, adding, "when my son Dominic grows up he's not going to have the ability to go to a special grocery store. He's not going to have the ability to go to a special needs library. He's going to be in society with other typical-developing adults and young adults, and we need to be able to provide what that looks like now."
TLC Executive Director and Founding Principal Jessica Tunney said the goal was to stop separating students with special needs from their peers, bring what they need to them and let the entire classroom learn from the experience.
"The progress that we see kids, in particular children with disabilities, making when they're allowed to be in an environment with their typically-developing peers and make friends and be a part of the class in a full and authentic way, those children get excited about learning and really start to thrive," Tunney said.
TLC board member and parent, Bernie Dickson, said funding is a challenge.
"Our programs cost a little bit more because we're doing the full-inclusion, so we have to do a lot of fundraising to get funds," Dickson said.
Kelly Laule with Better Living Socal Realtor Experts stepped in to help out this week with a $6,300 donation.
"The way that the teachers, the staff, the volunteers all come together is one of the most priceless things that you could ever give back to," Laule said.
The Walton Family Foundation pledged to boost donations to TLC on Giving Tuesday with a $25,000 match. TLC staff created a GoFundMe page for Giving Tuesday.
Grateful for the the generosity, Tamparong said children with disabilities weren't the only ones who benefit from the full-inclusion model.
"It's very important to me that Jaiden grows up with the understanding of acceptance and tolerance for individuals that have these different abilities because it just makes a more inclusive environment for everyone," Tamparong said.
Tunney said the location was temporary. The school would likely soon have to move to a larger facility to meet a growing demand. She said the current wait list was 80 families long.