inclusion, exclusion, privacy, the 1st day of school and, sigh, picking the battles


Here under The Big Top we are officially BACK TO SCHOOL!

Can I hear a YEAH, BABY!!!??

OH, YEAH BABY!!!

And for the first time since 1997 I only have one child of mine heading back to school which means…

yeah, I know it means this is my last baby and all my babies are growing up…

More importantly, this means that I only had ONE ream of repetitive back to school paperwork to fill out, also known as “Mom-work” in Daniel’s classroom this year. For the record, I got my Mom-work done.

Leading up to the first day of school was so much excitement and nervous energy…totally normal I assure Daniel. Hazel excitedly shared the day before how she couldn’t wait to go to her school and see her name posted under the name of her assigned first grade teacher. Who would it be? She was so excited with the anticipation of it all as were pretty much every other K-8 child in this town. It’s part of the Back to School tradition.

Daniel wanted to be a part of that too. Last year we went to his school the day before the first day to view the class lists and…nothing. We downplayed it reminding him that we had the letter from the district telling him what school he would be going to and he wiped away the tears but not the worry…what if his name wasn’t there for a reason? But the next morning the principal assured him that yes he was at her school and in Mrs. B’s 4-6 SDC class. It’s privacy concerns she tells me when I ask why his class list wasn’t posted.

Privacy?

Privacy. People might KNOW that he is in the SDC class, she explains with a warm smile.

Um, okay. They already know.

So this year I decide to call the school and ask do I bother to drive over to the school. Do I put my child through that feeling of exclusion again?

You don’t need to come, I am told. Daniel will be in Mrs. B’s 4-6 SDC class.

Okay.

YES! Daniel is thrilled. Daniel is also kind of disappointed.

Disappointed? The principal wonders why.

Well, he doesn’t get to participate in that annual ritual of going to the school the day before the first day and looking for his name…and then the names of his friends.

I’m reminded again of the importance to respect his privacy which is why the SDC classes are never made public…at least at this particular campus in the MUSD district.

I think the principal heard my head thud on my desk because she then commented that I might not like that policy.

I don’t. Daniel (and his classmates in Mrs. B’s 4-6 class) are known on campus. All of them spend some length of time every day in mainstream classrooms. They participate in all activities on that campus. Everyone knows them.

Respecting their privacy?

I don’t get that.

My son, and his classmates might be differently abled. Perhaps they learn at a different pace or in a different way. Still they are included in classroom settings with their also “normal” abled peers…and the benefits abound. We’ve seen it in interactions through the years with Daniel’s teachers, with his classmates and with their families. And we have seen our son, and his SDC peers thrive…thrive in the least restrictive environment for them, for their classmates (normal and different), for their teachers and support staff and for the families. Yes, some families and even a few teachers struggle with this, but overall the results are positive all around on campus and I imagine, wish, hope and pray will continue to grow and flourish as my son becomes a young man.

No, I don’t get it. I respectfully disagree with respecting their privacy, I explain to the principal. I’m glad that I called the school first, I tell her. I’d hate for Daniel to again feel excluded from this back to school tradition.

She never thought of it that way, she tells me.

I know.

I could fight. I could argue with her. But I don’t. You pick your battles. This isn’t even an argument I decide.

We need to focus on this.

6th grade life, people!!!

And let us not forget, 1st grade! Hazel Faye is now a 1st grader!!!

the last week


It’s going to be a short week. It’s going to be a busy week. It’s going to be a hectic week. It’s going to be an emotional week…so many feels…there’s no getting around that. It’s going to be a happy week. It’s going to be a week of graduations, celebrations and lots of pride…so much pride.

Let’s start it off right with this.

I can’t imagine never not being amazed with this kid of mine. I imagine that he will soon grow tired of my amazement because he is almost a teenager as he likes to remind me pretty much every day. That’s okay. He can do that. I, in turn, will always marvel over the miracle that he is because, trust me, sitting by his bed every single day of those 132 days in the NICU watching over him the last thing his father and I could imagine was moments like this. Living through all those days filled with so much pain, anxiety and hope we kind of earned the right as NICU parents, because although we left the NICU with our baby boy 12 years ago, the NICU never leaves us. So yeah, we’re just a little bit emotional and over-the-top proud of this amazing, miraculous child of ours.

He’s proud too.

He should be. He worked very hard all year long for this.

Of course his teachers, aides and even the principal are proud of him. I like that you could see that pride reflected in the faces of his teacher and his principal as he accepted his awards today. I know that his principal gets just how remarkable all of this is for Daniel and for us. Having sat with her many times in a NICU years ago caring for her baby and supporting her I know that she knows.

And now there is literally only three more days of school.

 

do good for the kindest and the sweetest


I hesitated for a moment sharing this but, well, it is a need that will not be met any other way.

iPad for Learning!

My students are excited to use technology in our classroom! When they see an iPad their faces light up!

My classroom consists of Mild/Moderate Special Education Students. They are the kindest, sweetest students. They make teaching such a joy!

My students have their own personal learning struggles in all academic areas, but try so hard to achieve. They strive to learn!

I would like to continue developing new learning centers in my classroom. Adding centers with iPads would be so exciting! Today’s students learn with technology and we need to keep up with the latest technology! The iPad center would offer a new way to develop language arts and math through the multitude of applications out there!

Adding an iPad to our classroom will make learning more exciting for my students. I know they will feel so proud to have a classroom with an iPad learning center. They will look forward to using the new technology daily.

Many of my students don’t have the resources at home to have Internet access, computers, or other technologies that could help them achieve. Having access in our classroom would give them academic benefits as well as exposure to technology they may not have at home.

This project will benefit Daniel’s class! If I was queen of the world, they would have an iPad Air for each one of the kindest and sweetest 4th, 5th and 6th graders that I know. Mrs. Bradshaw is truly a talented and passionate teacher with a heart for each and every one of her students. Yes, Daniel is fortunate enough to have access to technology at home but he is the minority in this special ed class at his school.  From now until Sunday, January 26 any donation will be 100% matched! The added bonus is all who do donate will receive personal thank yous from the kindest and sweetest students around…including Daniel.

I have shared in the past how it seems that the special ed class always seems to get what is left over and is often counted out. My readers came through years ago with a school fundraising project that won the special ed class the ice cream party…much to the surprise of the PTA. I would love to see something like that happen again except this time a couple of iPads in Mrs. Bradshaw’s class.

Thank you!

play it again: ornaments


After an encounter yesterday at the dance studio with another child demanding to know “What’s wrong with him?”, referring to my son patiently waiting for his sister to be done with her dance rehearsal, I found myself considering two things: a- to take the little hellion darling out and teach her a thing or two about grace and manners because clearly someone else isn’t; b- try to be patient with the little hellion darling even if she is behaving horribly rude to my child. I chose “b” and I won’t lie, it was excruciatingly difficult until this morning when I discovered that the little hellion darling is my daughter’s buddy on the competition team. Oh you sweet little girl…bless your darling, little heart! Yes, I just said that in my best Southern accent. In all seriousness, I do hope that she will (like the rest of Jodie’s team and everyone else at the studio has) come to appreciate just how awesome and magical Jodie’s little brother is.

This post was originally published December 1, 2011.

a paragraph by Daniel, third grade:

Today I hung my Christmas ornaments on the Christmas tree. I have twenty six ornaments. Mom keeps them in a box for me. My favorite is an airplane.

Every year for Christmas I give each of the kids an ornament to add to their own collection that someday they can take for their very own Christmas tree in their own home. Added to that collection are other ornaments they have received as gifts and ornaments they have made through the years. For Christmas 2008, I gave Daniel an airplane ornament to remember his very first ride on an airplane. It was magical, very magical.

At school every week he is expected to write a paragraph of three or more sentences about any subject that he wants to write about. He pretty much always struggles with coming up with a topic…and then sentences. Sorry, but writing definitely does not come to him easily like math does for him! But this week, after hanging his ornaments on the tree, he had no trouble at all deciding what he wanted to write about.  Just like his first ride on an airplane, it was magical watching him write this paragraph. Almost as magical as it was to watch him admire and remember all twenty six ornaments that belong to him…magical! Almost as magical as he is.

Magical!

He is!