Thursday, December 23, 2010

One of the good ones

When we moved almost exactly a year ago out of the neighborhood where my daughters had attended school for so very long I couldn't have imagined myself ever wanting to leave there. I knew the teachers, I knew the principal, I knew the parents. I loved that school maybe even more than my girls did. We got permission to finish out the year there so Natalie didn't have to move the middle of her 5th grade year and the whole time I debated do I keep Kaitlyn here next year or do we go to our neighborhood school. As she continued to struggle with school and dislike it more and more I found myself losing confidence in her teacher. I even wrote this letter which got everyone up in arms because it got around the school what I had done. And it caused me to write this letter of apology. And you know I was truly sorry if I had offended anyone in my first letter, but you know what, Kaitlyn's teacher last year broke my daughter. My sweet little girl was not the same fun loving adventure taking girl I had given her teacher at the beginning of the year. She was beaten down and broken. She hated school. She did whatever she could to get out of that class. To this day I still hear her say my teacher last year did this or she did that. She was deeply scarred by this teacher and it's such a shame.

But now we are on to bigger and better things. I made the choice for many reasons to move my children to their home school. I wanted CJ to go to preschool this year and I couldn't get both children to different sides of town at the same time if we had stayed in the old school. Now of course last year was one teacher and one bad experience. There's no telling what 3rd grade at her old school would have brought for her, but I can't imagine that anyone could possibly do a better job with my girl than what has happened this year. I had a 3rd grade teacher in mind when Kaitlyn was starting school there that I wanted her to get. She had one in mind that she wanted to get. I got my way. Kaitlyn was not happy, but I told her it's a new year and a new school and lets be open to all the new possibilities here. So being the trooper that she is she went off to school that first day. I was a nervous wreck. Couldn't wait to hear all about it. She came home glowing! Oh my God, what a difference from last year. She already loved her teacher. He gave her a little note welcoming her to a new school and even sharing a little something about him when he was her age he too went to a new school. Instant connection. I called him up and set up a meeting with him as I tend to do with my kids teachers when I know there are issues to discuss. I wanted to give him a little insight into the Kaitlyn I know. A week into school and he already had my girl down like he's known her and watched her grow like I have for the past 8 years. He could see how that mind of hers works and that drive that she has. Okay good start. Can he keep this up?

I have been in contact with him numerous times so far this year. Asking questions through email and just talking to him. He always replies to me quickly and we always come up with the perfect solution for Kaitlyn. It didn't take long at all for Kaitlyn to love school again. She is actually upset when the weekend gets here and she isn't going to get to be at school for a few days. She comes home most days with a smile on her face (the few she doesn't have a smile on her face usually seems to have something to do with something that happened on the bus). She truly got one of the good ones this year.

There has been a tremendous turn around in her attitude about school. We are fighting less about homework. There are still days, but for the most part she wants to get it done and she wants to get it done right. Her reading has already improved greatly. She is learning some great skills to help her sound out words instead of trying to memorize them. She's always "tapping out" words when she reads. Making connections between home and school.

I went into her classroom yesterday to bring some cookies for her class party. I couldn't stay because I had a very crabby 3 year old with me and Joe needed to be picked up from work. But I did stay for a few and her teacher came up to me to tell me about the math test he had given her that day. One of her provisions in her IEP is that she have questions on tests read to her. This way she's not being graded on her inability to read say a math question and falling behind in something she's good at. So Kaitlyn sits at the table with her teacher along with her special reading notebook to help remind her of the sounds letters make and she taps out those hard to read words. Her teacher was so thrilled to tell me that she literally DOES NOT want him to help her. She wants to do it on her own. She only asked for help on two of the questions. And he said she did really well on the test too (only getting one or two wrong). So he is watching her blossom and he is loving every second of it and is excited to tell me about it.

He is always telling me what a great and sweet child she is. I love that he sees so much in her. I love that she is working so hard and is loving school again. I love that when I write a note to him trying to express my gratitude in all that he has done for my little girl so far this year that I get this back in return:

Thank you so much for your kind words. Those things mean a lot to me. I feel that I am the lucky one, to have such a wonderful student and person as Kaitlyn in my class this year. She is truly a fantastic child. Merry Christmas!

Brought tears to this already emotional pregnant ladies eyes and every time I read it I get choked up. He is lucky to have my daughter in his class. I mean is it any wonder that in just a few short months that broken down Kaitlyn is back on track and excited about school and learning again? For a teacher to feel lucky to have a student it's just wonderful. He really is one of the good ones. We are all very lucky to have this chance to work with him this year. Makes me know that I really did do the right thing changing schools when I did. I do wonder what would have happened if we had done it last year. I think this was the right choice though. She ended up with the perfect teacher to rebuild her confidence after being brought down so hard all year last year. And as corny as this may sound I think this note from Kaitlyn's teacher might be my best Christmas present this year. It is going to be very hard to say goodbye to him in June that's for sure.