Doernbecher Hospital School Program

A teacher working with a student in the Hospital school program

When patients arrive at OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital, education understandably takes a back seat. But as treatment progresses, teachers with the Hospital School Program keep kids learning. The program offers:

  • Flexible lessons tailored to your child’s needs and abilities.
  • An important social outlet.
  • connection to your child’s school and help transitioningback.

Staying engaged

Teachers let families know they’re available early on. When a child is ready, they offer activities with no academic expectations. Next, they gear lessons to a child’s interests and strengths. They add formal lessons, in coordination with your child’s school, over time.

Lessons can stop, restart or shift depending on how a child feels. The main goal is to keep kids engaged in learning.

Lessons and activities

Teachers meet some children at bedside for an hour, or as long as a child is up to it. Other students meet 10 a.m. to noon weekdays in one of two classrooms at Doernbecher. Both settings give kids an important social outlet.

In class, students work on grade-appropriate lessons as well as group activities. They might build terrarium “fairy gardens” with master gardeners or participate in a science project with an OMSI educator. 

MyMusicRx, a Children's Cancer Association program, and the Children's Healing Art Project also offer activities for children at Doernbecher.        

Keeping connected

A female student working with yarn in the Hospital school program

Teachers serve as a bridge between students and their regular classrooms. They might arrange a video link so classmates can say hi and see that a student is doing classwork in the hospital. They stay in contact with students’ regular teachers to help kids, as much as possible, keep up with assignments and peers.

Teachers also help kids transition back to school. This might include helping parents line up an accommodation. Teachers work with some students years after the kids left the hospital.

Who can take part

About 10 teachers work at Doernbecher, serving about 650 students a year. Patients and siblings in grades K-12 at Doernbecher and the westside Ronald McDonald House can take part.

The Hospital School Program operates at other hospitals as well. It’s funded by the Oregon Department of Education and managed by the Multnomah Education Service District. Teachers are employees of the service district.

Learn more

A teacher working with a student.