A few weeks ago, we had a meeting with about a thousand teachers and administrators at Sammy’s school to discuss his learning environment. I say a thousand because that’s how it felt leading up to the meeting, that I’d be David sitting across from Goliath and his army, ready to dismiss my kid as unhelp-able. And although I did feel a little outnumbered, and it was clear that some of them had already decided they had nothing more they could or wanted to do for him, we came away from the table with a plan to help Sammy get more out of school and let him show that he really is learning and growing. It’s still a young plan, but one in which I have hope.
So, on this Valentine’s Day, I’d like to thank my heroes, my champions who helped us build this bridge and start down a new path.
My parents and my husband, who took the time to come with me to this meeting, so I wouldn’t be alone against a sea of school officials (intimidating much?). Together, we showed them the village behind the boy, a roaring cheerleading section and united force that will never give up on him.
Sammy’s special education teacher, for having such enthusiasm and desire to work with my son, and a willingness to try anything to motivate him. I was worried at first, early last year, that she wanted to pigeon hole Sammy under some label or another, but that is definitely not the case today. I can tell she likes our boy and is excited to bring more out of him. Plus, she appreciates parents that not only participate actively in their children’s education, but also give her the room to do whatever she thinks will help.
The consultant who told the rest of the room to just stop dithering and worrying about paperwork, and just get Sammy started already. I never would have known that such red tape could be cut, nor would I have had to guts to even ask, but she just walked right through it, and as a result, things started changing for Sammy right away, instead in a few weeks on some undetermined day.
My sister, who shared her educator’s experience and knowledge so I could speak a little more effectively, ask more pointed questions, and stand up for my son with more authority. It’s nice to have someone who would normally be on the other side of the table helping us advocate from ours.
My dear friend, Natalie, who gave me another educator’s perspective, one for which I am grateful because I know it comes without a shred of bias. She gave me a lesson in language and opened doors to new ideas for ways to get Sammy’s needs met, and what the really gave me was confidence.
And someone I only know through the internet, Rob Rummel-Hudson, for being a guide through these murky waters of child advocacy and an inspiration to keep fighting always for my kid. In the days leading up to this meeting, I often found myself thinking, “What would Rob do?” and although I don’t know the exact words he would have used, I do know he would listen and watch and not just take what was handed out if it wasn’t the right thing for his daughter. That’s what I want to do for my kids.
Surely, there are many others standing behind us, and I thank you, too. I hope I can pay all of this support forward in the future.