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Parker’s Story:How one high school senior overcame the odds to graduate

Updated: Feb 7, 2023

Parker started to struggle in school while in the seventh grade. He stopped doing his homework and fell behind academically.

His mother, Kim, met with Parker’s teachers and academic counselors at their northwestern Iowa school district. “Parker was fine socially,” Kim recalled, “but academically he was not motivated. They said he was lazy and didn’t want to do anything.”

Kim tried to get Parker extra help with tutors. That didn’t help.

“I just couldn’t concentrate long enough to complete the work” Parker said. “I would just space off. The teacher would be talking. I tried to pay attention. I missed everything.”

Parker continued to struggle through middle school into high school.

He failed a lot of classes. He had to repeat those classes. That didn’t help him at all.

Kim finally learned about specialized services that had just become available within her school. Classroom Clinic, a school-based telehealth company, had partnered with their local district to offer families access to specialized children’s mental health services, including psychiatric evaluations, medication management, and individual therapy.

Kim requested an evaluation for her son.

Parker and Kim met with Sue Gehling, a psychiatric nurse practitioner. The visit was conducted virtually from the school. Sue diagnosed Parker with anxiety and ADHD and recommended a medication trial.

“He had been living for years with an undiagnosed and untreated medical condition,” Sue said. “He was fighting an uphill battle every day. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to succeed in school, it’s that his brain would not let him.”

Sue cautioned Kim and Parker that results from the medication trial could take several weeks to a month. Parker noticed a difference from the medication much quicker.

“It seemed like almost immediately,” Parker said. “I would come home from school and could sit down and get work done. I was feeling much better.” Kim added, “We could both really tell the difference.”

Parker was on the road to mental wellness, but his struggles in the classroom had left him too far behind to catch up. He didn’t have enough credits to graduate with his classmates.

But Parker did not drop out of school. He was determined to earn his high school diploma.

Kim and Parker worked with his school to begin an online credit recovery program last summer. He needed to recover a lot of credits yet to earn his high school diploma.

It proved a long slog for Parker.

Summer soon morphed into fall and his friends moved on to college. Winter brought an uptick in anxiety and depression for Parker. He thoughts turned negative. He wondered aloud if he would ever make it through the pile of work needed to finish school.

Kim and his provider continued to encourage him. His medications were adjusted. Gradually, Parker began feeling better and became more excited and invested in recovering his school credits.

Slowly, class by class, assignment by assignment, Parker made up his high school credits.

Then one day in late May, Parker texted a photo to his mom of the last assignment he had just finished to earn his diploma.

It was done. His mother Kim cried.

“He had a mountain to climb, and he worked so hard,” she said. “I am so proud of him.”

Both Parker and his mother credit working with Classroom Clinic as the catalyst for Parker’s academic resuscitation.

“I saw such a change in him after he began receiving the care he needed,” Kim said. “It was satisfying talking to someone who knew what my son was struggling with. And she listened to Parker. Sue was very supportive.”

Sue received a text from Parker in late May. The text showed a picture of a signed, official diploma from his school district.

Sue set aside her medical practitioner’s hat for a moment and cried.

“I had a relationship with him as his provider,” Sue said. “And I couldn’t help but to experience happiness for him in that moment.”

“It is such a joy to make a difference in a student’s life. I’ll never forget what Parker accomplished.”

To learn more about Classroom Clinic, visit their website at To contact a staff member, call 712-525-0993 or email

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