Saturday, December 28, 2013

A thank-you to Southeast Junior High

From my friend Doris, a frequent commenter here:
For your blog if you can find a place to post it:

Dear Chris,

More than once on this blog you have acknowledged, to your credit, that because you don’t have experience raising special needs children, some of the concerns you raise may not adequately reflect the experiences of families that do have non-typical learners. Ours is such a family. As we are not participants in organized religion, my approach to giving thanks tends to fall on the secular side. And so here, if you’ll allow me, I’d like to use your blog as a venue for offering some public thanks to all the wonderful faculty and staff at South East Junior High who have made this school year a very good one indeed for our two children—and particularly our child with special needs. Like you, I make no claim that our experience is representative of the experience of other South East families. But from the first time we went over to South East last spring, to get the ball rolling on the process of shifting our children from a small group homeschool program into 7th and 8th grade, respectively, we’ve been treated with courtesy and good cheer by a variety of people who have gone out of their way to help us and our children make it work. In more than one comment on your blog I have criticized a “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top” driven attitude that can result in a quite miserable educational experience for children who, for whatever reason, struggle to keep up with an unrealistic pace. I’m not saying that South East is perfect, but in our experience thus far the “vibe” we have been getting is that, like us, they think the best approach is to treat our special needs child as a capable and complicated individual (albeit one with endearing foibles) and to operate with a flexible attitude toward the process of figuring out which accommodations she needs to help her learn and thrive. It’s been good, basically—better than we would have thought possible going in. I have no idea what North West and North Central are like—fine schools, presumably—but so far I’d have no reservations recommending South East to parents of special needs learners in search of a local public middle school. Here, too, I’d like in particular to thank our child’s South East LRE teacher, Mr. Josh Chambers, for all his help this fall. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve dashed off an email about some problem that has cropped up, and typically by the next day he has written back to let us know he has handled things.

Ultimately I guess what I am trying to say is that they teachers and staff over there actually seem to like our special needs child just as she is, and they seem committed to helping her succeed in her own way, not in a way mandated by federal law.

Thanks, too, to you, Chris, for all the work you put into running this extraordinarily helpful blog. I marvel at your dedication and value all the insight I’ve gained.


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