Thought I might give an official update on Rachel’s first quarter of high school. We just had Parent-Teacher Conferences. We are in pretty close contact with Rachel’s team on a regular basis. It wouldn’t matter if we had seen the teachers 10 times that week, Rachel insists that we go to Parent-Teacher Conference and meet every single teacher. I want to tell you a little of what was heard at her conferences.
“She is doing great! She is one of my best students. I keep telling you (Mom) to quit fussing because she is doing great.” I might have mentioned that I can be a bit driven. “I wish all of my students had some of her enthusiasm.”
“She brightens my day every day.”
“She works so hard. She is very independent. It would be helpful if she would invite the paras to help her from time to time.” I think I MIGHT have heard this before like since she was old enough to say “I do myself, mommy.” She is her mother’s child. We have a plan though. Part of being a responsible person is asking for help when you need it so she made a deal with me that she would do this. We’ll see …..
We have hit the jackpot with our teaching team. They have been great and continue to try to figure out how to best meet her needs and work with us so she will have meaningful experiences. One was teary because she is so proud of the good work Rachel is doing. One said, “Rachel = you are my favorite student but don’t tell.”
Some other bright spots for mom and dad. English. Her teacher is awesome. You may remember she contacted me before school started because she wanted to know how to best teach Rachel. You can tell how proud she is of Rachel’s work. “Of Mice in Men” is not Rachel’s favorite book. She says “they use inappropriate language.” She is right. Still, she read and worked very hard on the assignments. Book test time came and the teacher and I chatted. Seems that usually Rachel goes out to take her test so questions can be clarified or whatever. The teacher and I agreed we should have her do the 40 question test with no para support. If she bombs, we’ll adjust. She studied for several weeks because a key for Rachel’s success is a good study guide and knowing the test format (multiple choice, fill in the blank.) This teacher has been very accommodating. Rachel made 94 on her test.
Then, the biology teacher told us they would be doing chromosomes and cell development and they talk about Down syndrome. She was very excited and may show “Just Like You – Down Syndrome” to the class. She has a fabulous idea. “Do you have Rachel’s karyotype? I think it would be awesome to show them Rachel’s karyotype. It would be a great learning opportunity for our students to be able to see the tiny little difference on the chromosome.” Don’t know if my readers share in my enthusiasm. I love that idea but now I have to try to find the lab work? This biology teacher is awesome, too. She works hard to be sure that all the students feel like they are a part that they are meaningfully included academically as well. I’m impressed.
Last and probably our favorite discussion was the teacher who told us about the play they are writing. Rachel is writing a play about Bethany Hamilton and “Soul Surfer.” It is for reading. She has made the teacher the shark and it was hysterical hearing him tell about it. The class is small and one of the other students in the class is quite introverted. The teacher said that Rachel has made it her mission to help him out of his shell. The teacher told us how she encourages him and invites him to participate. He has never wanted to read aloud to the teacher, but he has observed Rachel and has now ask the teacher if he can read outlook to him, too. The teacher thinks it is a very positive impact. So do we.
Another bright spot for mom and dad is our newest case manager. He is working with teachers on modifications and was sharing a study guide for an upcoming test. I had already seen it and said it looked fine to me. He had some ideas on formatting. Didn’t like the way the answers were not presented consistently. I didn’t catch that and it is the small things that make a big difference for Rachel.
Rachel seems to know everyone. She flitted around and talked to all kinds of people. She helped me a bit the PTO table. She is happy and seems well-adjusted. Her daddy and I are very proud of her for her positive attitude, kindness, sense of humor, and work ethic.
School is about more than grades. It is about preparing to navigate life. I have a heartfelt belief that Rachel’s inclusion in the general education classroom is educating and changing perceptions not just of other students but perhaps more importantly, adults. It is teaching a lot of people about navigating life. You could see it on their faces and in their shared pride in how she was doing. Oh and she did have all A’s.