A week or so ago I had a conference with Jake’s teacher. In the past there have been times where I was anxious about what his teacher might have to say. Over the years I have learned to toughen up and use their comments as tools while working with Jake at home. I like to hear the “negative” stuff because I know what I need to work on and how to help Jake when he isn’t in school. This particular meeting had zero negative comments. It was so nice to sit back and hear the words like succeeding, smart, social, academically on target and so many other encouraging words. The only thing we need to continue to work on with Jake is his handwriting and building stamina so he can write more than just a couple of words at a time. Jake has not had many meltdowns and when he is getting close to one his teacher watches and gives him the break or the tools he needs so he won’t melt down. She sees when he is fidgeting, when he can’t sit still and when he is struggling to stay on task. And one of the neatest things I’ve seen is she not only watches Jake and sees his needs but she does this with each student. To say I feel blessed Jake was placed in his class is an understatement. I really feel like we hit the jackpot!
One of the things I love most about Bailey Station is how the administration looks at each child and places him/her with a teacher that they feel is a perfect match. In Jake’s case they placed with someone who gentle but stern. Mrs. S. challenges Jake and expects a lot out of him; she is the perfect combination that Jake needs. When Allie went to the same school, 2nd-5th, she need a different type of teacher than Jake does. They always seemed to match Allie with teachers that were the perfect fit for her. When Allie was in elementary school I always felt like she was important; like she was the only child on their radar. Before Jake entered the special needs preschool class I wondered if Jake would be treated the same. I had prayed and hoped the school continued to have a love for their kids and sought the importance of the individual child along with education. I remember being so nervous because I had been through the typical side of the school and couldn’t help but be a little anxious going through the special needs side. I don’t really like to call it sides but it is the best way for me to describe how I saw it at the time. But in all honesty, Bailey Station Elementary doesn’t see it as typical and special needs; they treat all children as equals. They meet each child where they are and provide the best education that the individual child needs.
I am often asked how I was able to receive all the services we have for Jake or how we were able to get an aide. It isn’t a battle here, they look at the child and want to provide a positive learning environment and give each child the tools they need to succeed. Jake is no exception. I saw it when Allie went to school here and I see it now; I couldn’t be happier with our public school that feels like a small private school.
Last year at the end of Kindergarten Jake’s art work was pulled aside to be entered into the local fair. I received a call last week from his art teacher letting me know his art was selected and received a ribbon, he also won $25!! I was so thrilled for him! Funny story; Jake was showing me all the art from the fair in the school office and he pointed out which one was his. I should have read the names but didn’t because I was too excited. Come to find out the one he showed me, the one I posted on my social media, wasn’t his at all but one of his classmates. When I asked him why he didn’t show me his he just said I liked the lion. Silly boy. Fortunately I was able to see his and loved it immediately. He painted an owl which is cool in itself. The owl was my late father’s favorite animal so Jake’s painting is even more special to me now.
The first 9 weeks of school are coming to end, hard to believe, and I couldn’t be more proud or happier with how first grade has started. I continue to hope and pray the rest of the school year goes as well as the first nine weeks!
If I could tell another parent whose child is entering school for the first time whether they have special needs or are typical would be to look at the school and ask a lot of questions. The main question I would tell someone to ask is what tools will you use to give my child the best learning experience? How will you help my child be successful and a contributing member of society? In my opinion these questions are so important. Most of us with a child on the spectrum or a child with any kind of special needs eventually want our kids to be able to function on their own. Some children might be able to while others might continue to need extra help. But with the right tools and the right resources all of our kids can and will be successful in their own way!