Wednesday, April 24, 2013

1st Grade is Magic


Truer words could not have ever been spoken, and these words came from the most dedicated source at the most appropriate time.  Samantha's 1st grade teacher, Lisa Roth, winner of the 2013 Washington Post Agnes P. Meyer Outstanding Teacher of the Year award for our county, spoke these very words on Back to School Night in August, to a group of anxious parents of rising 1st graders.  She spoke these words with a resounding confidence and surety that calmed the room like a warm blanket on a cold night.  She spoke these words as a person who has spoken them many times before, who is confident in their power and in their effect, who knows them to be true.

And she does speak the truth. 

1st Grade is Magic.

Now, nearing the end of the school year, getting ready to face the next leap, the next great challenge, I see the astounding growth and development Samantha has experienced in the last 8 months, and the anxiety and concern I would ordinarily have felt in the thought of my baby entering 2nd grade is nowhere to be found.  Gone.  We're ready.  We have a strong team of teachers and classmates around us, communicating with us, nurturing my girl and helping her to reach her full potential.  Sure, they won't all still be here next year, and things will shift and change, but the foundation has been set, the pieces in place for those who will follow.

Our re-evaluation  is complete, Samantha's inevitable transition from the DD label to Child with a Disability in place.  The IEP meeting yesterday gone without a hitch, the only thing keeping the time from being kept under an hour was the small talk and laughter, the joking around that is usually found among friends.  And we were among friends.

After the meeting disbanded, we all rushed home to get ready for the evening's next event, the county School Board meeting at which Lisa Roth was formally honored in front of a packed room of hundreds, including parents, students, teachers and administrators.  Her speech was so moving, as evidenced by the wiping of eyes from audience members and Board members alike, preceded beautifully by a video, in which she and others (parents, including myself, former students, the school principal and two school custodians) spoke over images of her class performing their day-to-day activities.  The two custodians, whose words were translated into English, were particularly poignant, and brought tears to my eyes.  They spoke of how Lisa values them, includes them, makes them feel not like custodians, but as members of staff.  This made me feel happy, but also sad, that exclusion and isolation occur everywhere, not just in the special needs community.  These two women are members of staff, and should be valued, and it is completely a testament to Lisa's warm, nurturing personality that they wanted to speak on her behalf in such a memorable manner.

I've said it before, and will say it again, we have been so fortunate to have had our daughter in her class this year.  I can think of no better experience to start off Sammi's full-time educational life, no better foundation for her to succeed, no better source of communication and positivity for us, as parents, to cling on to and move forward with.

And, while I have no such illusions for Middle School, when that particular challenge comes around, here's to hoping that 2nd grade can be magic, too...  

10 comments:

Stephanie said...

The post is utterly fantastic. I am so happy to hear that people do have great IEP teams and do have wonderful experiences in school. It makes me feel so much better about the future. We love O's team right now and I've met part of the team for next year and I can tell they are the kind of people we want and need to do a little extra pushing.

Sammi looks so darn cute with her sign!!

Anna Theurer said...

I am relieved that all went well at the IEP and a big congratulations to Sammi's teacher! I know that you were very instrumental in her receiving that reward. As usual, another darling picture of Miss Sammi.

teal915 said...

So awesome. Makes me feel good about the idea of Kamdyn possibly entering a classroom settin g, if I decide not to homeschool

Anna said...

So happy for you and Sammi!

Tracy Rossi said...

Great post. I too think very highly of Ms. Roth. My children did not have her as a teacher, but I taught one of her sons in middle school and love the family. I hope that you will find that middle school can and will be a source of great accomplishment for Sammi. One of the things I love most about my job is how it allows kids of all backgrounds to find a home and feel loved and supported. Perhaps I will be lucky enough to have Sammi in my class one day!

Denise Mom of 4 Amazing Kids said...

I love that Sam did so well and had a great teacher! Your such an amazing momma! I love all the information you share with us!

Deborah said...

This just makes me happy. I love that Sammi has had such a good first year - and a wonderful teacher - and I hope that she'll continue to have magical years throughout school. Your experience makes me feel more optimistic about Ben's future schooling.

Lisa said...

That is awesome that she won the award after your hard work! It is excellent you have such a great team and funny that you worry about middle school too! We have an awesome team as well so I guess since I don't have to worry about 2nd grade right now I must worry about something that will happen 4 years down road!

Jenny said...

Love that picture of Sammi! It's so awesome that she had such a wonderful first grade teacher. A good elementary school teacher really paves the way in how a child views school in years to come.

Kerri Ames said...

So wonderful that Kayla has had such a great teacher. The kudos is well deserved!