Monday, June 07, 2010

When "Thank You" sounds so inadequate...

I spent my Monday at Point Defiance Zoo with 45+ first graders.  Since I'm pretty much a zoo-hater (I always want to turn all the animals loose), and some of these children were a tad (just a tad) was a LOOOOoooooonnnnnngggggg day.  But I was glad for the opportunity to spend time with Tiersten and her buddies on their end-of-the-year field trip. 

But that means that.....Its the end of the school year???!!!???  How did this happen???  Where did this year go?  Next year I will have a Junior and Freshman in High School, and a 2nd grader and a 1st grader in the Elementary School.  AAAHHHH. 

In retrospect, its been a tough year.  My boys have done well, but the loss of their friend Max to suicide in January, which I blogged about at the time, was a tough blow from which they (and we) will never fully recover.  We are changed forever, and his death made suicide a personal thing, rather than something that "other people talk about".  His family is still constantly in our thoughts and prayers, even as we all attempt to move on with our lives.

Tiersten lost her first-grade teacher to a very sudden heart attack in December, just a few weeks before Christmas.  I also blogged about this unexpected tragedy, and marveled at how miraculously our school pulled together and mourned her in open and healthy ways.  While I worried at the time that first grade would forever be remembered as their first close experience with death, Tiersten and her fellow students have blossomed beautifully with their new teacher.  I have no doubt that Joan is looking down proudly at her beloved students and cheering them on! 

And then there is Jennica.  WOW!  We started her kindergarten year with a child that was somewhat "awestruck" in the overwhelming sensory environment of public school.  She ran away from school.  Literally.  And when that failed, she closed her ears and eyes to the environment around her and "shut down".  But we have been SO blessed with a school district that listened!!!  By the end of Week 3 of her kindergarten year, Jen had the most fantastic 1:1 para-educator that we could have asked for.  And even more miraculous, that para-educator (who had no previous experience with SPD) found the delicate balance between helping and hovering.  Jen tried to convince her to be her maid/servant/chef/nurse/etc. and Christine "got it"!!  Between Christine and the classroom teacher, Jennica has not only improved, she has SOARED!!  The same little girl that hated the chaos in the hallways before recess is now happily shouting to friends, playing, sharing, and is a part of that chaos, rather than an outsider looking in.  Perhaps our principal gave me the biggest compliment of all when recently she told me, "Jen is no different than the rest of the crowd anymore.  She is just one of the gang!!"  THAT is what an SPD parent lives to hear!

So.........I have so many people to thank at the end of this school year.  But how?  All four of my children have had life-changing experiences at school this year.  My school district has not only "handled" the situations, but they have cried with our students, loved them through their losses and challenges, and walked with them until the situation improved.  Our school administration could have made many different decisions in all of these situations but, in my opinion, they made the right decisions.  Not the cheapest decisions.  Not the easiest decisions.  The RIGHT decisions.  I'm so proud that my children attend the Raymond School District.

To Steve Holland, Jesica Bryant, Hailey Michalk, Joan Leach, Kacie Bingham, Christine McLaughlin, and all the other people that have had daily contact with my children through their daily school trials this past year.......Thank you!  You are truly the best!!

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