Monday, September 17, 2012

Let This Be a Lesson...

To all of you parents of children with disabilities, you, who have felt the sharp stab of anxiety and apprehension in your child's IEP meetings, who have felt that a battle is all you're going to be faced with...  To all of you who worry that your children won't be embraced or accepted, nurtured and helped to grow to their full potential in the fully-included public school classroom, who think that the teachers don't want our children in their rooms, that added burden to bear as they try to balance the rest of their students that need their guidance...

There ARE good teachers out there.  And the teachers don't necessarily reflect the IEP team (although in our case, our IEP team is amazing...).  And there are teachers to care deeply about all of their students, disability or none.  And there are teachers who are amazing communicators, wanting to keep us parents in the loop, feeling positive about our childrens' futures, excited for the next steps in their development, who want the parents to feel confident that their needs are being met.

We were so lucky to have had an incredibly positive Kindergarten experience with just such a teacher.  To think that the lightning bolt of good fortune could strike twice and carry over into 1st grade (the BIG time!), was too much to wish for, but again, we struck gold

Sammi had a fairly rough week last week, as I blogged the other day.  Possibly a combination of it just being week 3 of full-time school and antibiotics for having been sick, she'd had strong mornings but then completely flagged in her full-on, stubborn (willful?) glory, refusing to get up off the floor/table/whatever, refusing to do her work, etc.  We were feeling pretty disappointed about it, hoping that it would pass, hoping that she hadn't disrupted the class too much. 

Friday night I received the most amazing e-mail, one that made our spirits soar with positive energy, bright futures and affirmation.

An e-mail from her teacher

I won't dance around it.  This is what she wrote (with her permission, of course...):

Hi! I wanted to to highlight Sammi's positive accomplishments in the first three weeks:

-coming in and making her lunch choice
-taking out her red folder, hanging up her back pack
-working on morning work
-coming to the carpet for read aloud
-making a center choice when asked
-SAMMI SANG AND PARTICIPATED IN OUR BRAIN AND BODY BREAK- chanting "Hi, my name is Joe" and "Ringo Rango"! :-) 
(btw, I discovered on my own that Ringo Rango is a song that they sing to learn how to count by 5s or 10s...)
-Being at school ALL DAY
-Working with new teachers and assistants
-Meeting new classmates
-Playing with news friends on the playground
-Working through a stomach bug and being on an antibiotic
-Completing writing assignments
-Going to Art, Music, PE, Library, recess on the BIG playground, and lunch in the FULL, LOUD cafeteria

WOW! I am so proud of Sammi's wonderful transition. Let's celebrate what is going well and continue to build stamina and have a positive outlook for more growth.

I love having Sammi in my class. Thank you for sharing her with me. Please let me know how I can help support a fabulous year for Sammi in first grade.

:-) Have a great weekend,

"Mrs. R"

So let that be a lesson to you, as parents facing the daunting experience of seeing their children off to school for the first time, or transitioning from one grade to is a wonderful thing.  Educators love their jobs.  Our children do learn and grow in the right environments. 

Thank you, Mrs. R., and the rest of Samantha's team!!


Lisa said...

That email is awesome - even more so given your week last week. I know you appreciate this excellent teacher who knows the value of the postive. We are also lucky enough to have an amazing teacher who is always focused on what Cate can do and is achieving. Thank you to all teacher who take the time to communicate with us and teach our kids as individuals even as their resources are strained to the limits.

Anna Theurer said...

I like this Mrs. R! I truly believe that people do not go into special education because they have it out for our children. I do believe that they want what is best. So many teachers have taken this career path because they have been deeply touched by a person with special needs (at least that is my experience so far with those I know in the field). I do know that people become jaded over time by the system though. Anyway, I am really happy that Sammi has such a wonderful teacher who sees what a wonderful girl she is--so full of promise with so many strengths!

Deanna said...

I love this. I so hope that Addison gets as lucky as Sammi in the teacher department!

Becca said...

Just as an FYI to Anna - Mrs. R is not a special education teacher - she's a 1st grade teacher of a typical class. That's what makes her even more remarkable!

Michelle said...

Yay for such an awesome teacher...Sammi is truly blessed to have someone in her corner like that.

Rochelle said...

Loving Mrs. R and all the other fabulous teachers out there! Yep, there are so many great ones, unfortunately I think parents talk about the bad ones too much which makes it seem as though the world is full of bad teachers!
So happy for Sammi and for this great teacher who is doing her part on the team to keep your family in the loop and Sammi integrated fully into her classroom!

Leah said...

What a good job she is doing- both Sammi and her teacher!

Angel said...

Tears!! How lovely for her to write just what a Mom needs to hear sometimes. The GOOD stuff!! :) A great teacher for sure. :)

Chromosomally Enhanced said...

So true! Most teachers are great! And they do care...being married to a educator...I think teachers ROCK! Love the email and the open communication! Smiles

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you blog about these kinds of successes so that the world will know how capable our kids can be! Sammi is an inspiration!

Renee said...

I'm so happy for you and Samantha!

wendy said...

I agree there are a lot of wonderful teachers out there! I'm very happy for you and Samantha!

Meriah said...

It's true. "True" educators do like their job and do it well, from the heart. Sounds like "Mrs R" is one of those gems. So glad for you and for Sammi!!

Becky said...

I love reading this...the more stories I see and hear like this the better our world becomes for all kids with Down syndrome. Keep up the great work Sammi and shining for all to see! :)