Our Stories

Michelle Rooney

Michelle Lynn Rooney Photography

Michelle Rooney is 32 years old and currently resides in Clemmons NC. Michelle has one dog, which is the love of her life, named Mya. She has her own photography business – Michelle Lynn Rooney Photography. She takes a variety of pictures for all of her clients, including her friends and family.

Michelle began attending The Children’s Center in 1985 as a laid back, quiet one-year-old. She attended The Children’s Center until 1989, when she started first grade at Southwest Elementary School in Clemmons. In 1993, while in fourth grade, Michelle was crowned homecoming queen. She was also a Lewisville Titans cheerleader! Michelle graduated from West Forsyth High School in 2004.

After graduating high school, Michelle began her studies at Forsyth Technical Community College. She also began volunteering at Forsyth Medical Center in 2004, where she still continues donating her time and talents. Michelle works with an organization that is near and dear to her heart, Capturing Hopes Photography. She now photographs babies who are in the NICU. She also serves on the Board of Directors for Capturing Hopes Photography and schedules photo sessions for families and photographers. In addition to volunteering, Michelle works for Heidi’s Uniforms in Winston-Salem, NC.

We are excited that Michelle has agreed to be one of the guest artists for The CFEC Summer Program this year! We look forward to Michelle sharing her story and her photography with the children and staff.


Former student Anna Thorup:

How The CFEC started me on a path to success.

One of my earliest memories as a child takes place at a local YMCA during one of my preschool class’ regular field trips to the pool. Petrified of the water, I can recall sitting on the edge of the pool, refusing to go in. My teacher, bobbing around in the water in front of me, gave her best effort to convince me that I would enjoy swimming with my class and would regret it if I decided to stay on the side. Reluctantly, after a good amount of coaxing and convincing, I agreed and, with her and the rest of the teachers by my side, I eventually learned to swim.

Looking back, I feel that this particular experience is one that represents my time at The Children’s Center as a whole. During my years spent there, I experienced a delicate balance of being introduced to new activities and being pushed to participate without ever feeling forced to do anything I did not want to. Instead of being pressured to do something, I was always encouraged to be brave. This word, “brave,” is one that obviously encompasses the entire spirit of The Children’s Center. Constantly, the students and faculty of the school portray an immense amount of courage in everything they do. Looking back, I feel that it was the introduction to this type of mentality at an early age that pushed me to become the person I am today and forced me to work as hard as I do to achieve what I want for my future.

Currently, I am 23 years old and after recently graduating from Emerson College in Boston, I packed up and migrated west to Los Angeles where I am working to pursue a career in the film and television industry. Leaving home and moving to a completely different environment a couple thousand miles away was about as terrifying as it was exciting, but I’ve been so happy to find that I’ve been able to create a little home here already. I have no idea where I will be in five or ten years or what I will be doing, but I am confident that with the unwavering support of everyone at The Children’s Center and with the courage I acquired while I was there, I am fully equipped to handle whatever will come next.


Victor’s Story

Written by Theresa Pauca, Victor’s mother, November 2014

When Victor received his diagnosis at two and a half years old of a rare and severe genetic condition called Pitt Hopkins syndrome, I knew exactly where he needed to go to reach is full potential:  The Children’s Center.  I knew this because I was a former teacher at this incredible school, the heartbeat of Winston-Salem.  It had been such a joy to work there in the late 90’s, and 10 years later, it would end up being one of the biggest blessings in our lives, as a school for my little boy.

Victor started his educational journey in Ms. Martha’s class, and I was thrilled to get this placement, because I had taught right next door to her, and I knew how much time, care, and love she would dedicate to her students.  Victor thrived in her classroom.  He struggled with some severe illnesses and hospitalizations during this first year, and the Children’s Center’s full-time nurses helped us so much during this difficult time.

When Victor first began school at age three, he had only been walking for a year, and was still quite wobbly on his feet.  The physical therapists worked diligently to help his ataxic gait, to be able to maneuver the school building and grounds.  Later he was able to learn how to walk up and down a curb and use stairs with assistance.  To this day the Motor Lab, where he learned many of the skills, remains his favorite room in the building.

Victor’s Speech Therapists and teachers worked tirelessly to find a way for our son to communicate.  He is able to understand much of what is said to him, but cannot speak yet.  Victor’s father, a Computer Science Professor at Wake Forest University and his students, consulted and collaborated with teachers and speech therapists at the Children’s Center, and developed a very successful iPad and iPhone App for emerging communication, called Verbal Victor.  This App has enabled Victor and many other individuals to communicate their wants and needs using a mobile device.

Victor continues to thrive at the Children’s Center. He is in the school-age program, with a wonderful teacher, Anne Ingram, and her incredible teacher assistants.  I am so grateful for Victor’s teachers, teacher assistants, therapists, staff, and administration of this beautiful school.  It is one of the happiest places in Winston-Salem, truly the heartbeat of this city.


The Centers for Exceptional Children:
The Centers for Exceptional Children. The Special Children's School. The Children's Center. Winston-Salem, NC. Copyright © 2014.
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