John Tuscan “Tuc” Baldecchi began showing signs of a learning disability at a very early age. After educational testing with a brilliant local psychologist and a complete battery of tests by the City of Richmond Schools it was determined at the age of six that he had dysgraphia, dyslexia and ADHD. Some would argue that this was very young for two professionals to determine these diagnoses but Tuc’s limitations and issues were readily apparent to all who interacted with him. He arrived at Riverside in the second grade and truly needed each and every bit of help, in all areas, that Riverside had to offer.
Over the years as he progressed through the Orton -Gillingham steps, there were years of great growth and progress also peppered with years of little growth and even some setbacks. The entire journey required great patience by all who knew and loved Tuc.
Tuc left Riverside after the 7th grade as he wanted to attend mainstream school one year before high school. I will always say that the greatest gifts Riverside bestowed upon Tuc, besides the dyslexia remediation, were the preservation of his self-esteem as a student and the fostering in him a deep love of learning.
He began to blossom academically in the 8th grade and decided to go to Benedictine High School. That was a very wise choice for Tuc as he excelled within the small classrooms, the structure of the military program, and found his place in athletics as well. He adored his four years at Benedictine. He made the honor roll each semester, was inducted into the National Honor Society, and graduated with a 3.6 GPA.
He fell in love with Virginia Tech upon visiting in the spring of his junior year. I can still cry when I think of the moment he called me after seeing his admission acceptance on line and said “Mom I’m a Hokie.” He has done so well at VT and was just accepted into the School of Engineering after three semesters of solid work. Tuc’s keys to his success in college have been working very hard, utilizing the disability services VT offers, and nurturing deep and positive relationships with all of his professors.
There is no doubt in my mind that the foundation Riverside gave Tuc has had a HUGE impact on his success. He was able to learn the fundamentals to overcome his dyslexia in a nurturing environment where he was loved and celebrated for exactly who he is. This is a lifelong gift for Tuc and for our family. Words simply cannot express the depth of our gratitude to Riverside, all of the staff and its life changing, inspirational, passionate and truly kind founder, Pat DeOrio.
Merv and Danny Baldecchi
Riverside Alumni Parents