The Jubilee SchoolAugust 3, 2018 (Moscow, Idaho) - Merilee Olps Paxton '03 is helping families with developmentally disabled children gain hope and support for their education. She co-founded The Jubilee School, a nonprofit institution, that works closely with parents and teachers to assess each child and plan their individual education around their strengths and weaknesses.

Paxton's reason for creating The Jubilee School came from the family's own struggles. “The challenges of our oldest son's nonverbal autism made life unpredictable and stressful. We were stuck, unsure how to help him grow in communication, academics, social skills, and life skills. But there was nowhere to turn.”

Their family's experience with the local public school further showed them the need to create their own program. “We put together an in-home therapy program by hiring a behavioral therapist and training several other helpers. This was a blessing, but it took coordination, training, and constant coming and going that took a toll on our family life.”

That is when Paxton and her husband, along with her parents and two other couples, decided to start a Christian school tailored to the needs of children with developmental delays and disabilities

She said, “We know firsthand that families struggle under the weight of responsibility that comes with raising a child with special needs. At Jubilee, we share the responsibility with teachers and therapists who provide an education tailored to the strengths and weaknesses of each individual child.”

The Jubilee School, based in Moscow, Idaho, just completed its pilot year. Paxton said that it was a success in spite of the challenges that come with uncharted territory: “All of our students have seen growth. For our family personally, Jubilee has become synonymous with hope. Henry has gone from completely ignoring peers to hugging his siblings, from not holding a pencil to working on handwriting independently, and most importantly-he has a visible joy in all of his hard work and accomplishments.”

Paxton plans for The Jubilee School to become a repeatable model that other small communities can replicate. She adds, “With the national autism rate now at 1 in 59 children, Jubilee addresses a need that is not limited to our family or community. This is a need exploding nationally, and we think Christians should be at the forefront in helping these kids reach their God-given potential.”