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...