Another Teacher Letter

School has started for many of us and will be starting for everyone else quite soon. For me the new school year brings new beginnings and revives a bit of nervousness.  Just getting everyone on the same page is a bit overwhelming.  This is another version of a teacher letter I have started sending.  I get very good feedback from the teachers.  I think it is really helpful as you move into the years where you have multiple teachers. I also think that meeting with the team early to be sure all are on the same page is critical to success.  Please feel free to re-use with my permission!  I send this electronically prior to school starting.

Rachel and other middle schoolers at WEB leader training. The smile tells the story.
Rachel and other middle schoolers at WEB leader training. The smile tells the story.

Email intro:

Dear Team,

Rachel is very excited about the coming school year!  I have included in this email and by attachment some information about Rachel that I think will be very helpful as you start the school year.  I know some of you have worked with Rachel in the past and others have never had a child with Down syndrome in one of your classes. I would like to encourage you to take 13 minutes and watch this amazing video Just Like You – Down Syndrome (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5M–xOyGUX4&feature=youtu.be).  Rachel is one of the featured teens along with ITMS’ own Savanna Muellner. I think you will find it most helpful!

 Dear Teachers,

 We are looking forward to a great 8th grade year. Rachel is very excited about school and especially about serving as a WEB leader. She has always loved school. Some of you know Rachel and have worked with her in the past. I know we will be meeting and you’ve received an IEP at a Glance. Still, I’ve outlined some information that might be helpful as you get to know Rachel if you don’t already.   My husband Jonathan and I are very involved parents. Please feel free to contact either of us with any questions. 

The most important thing I can tell you is that Rachel is more like other children than she is different.  Yes, she needs accommodations and modifications in her schoolwork.  She needs extra time to process a request, but she understands most things and will achieve and progress if given encouragement and the appropriate supports she needs.

 Diagnosis:  Down syndrome

Educational background:

  • Rachel started early intervention at the age of one week (cognition, physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy). 
  • For preschool, Rachel attended a typical program and a public school program where she received most of her support services. She attended K – 2 in Memphis, too.
  • Our family moved to Olathe, KS when Rachel was entering 3rd grade. She attended XXX Elementary 3 – 5th grades. 
  • Rachel was in a general education classroom in grades kindergarten through 7th grades and had resource support for the appropriate classes.
  • Since moving to Olathe, Rachel has had paraprofessional support as well.   
  • Rachel received individual Occupational and Speech Therapies until entering 6th grade when it switched to consult and is no longer included on her IEP.
  • Rachel is part of a lunch bunch and girl’s group (facilitated by the social worker) to continue to strengthen social skills. She loves these groups.
  • Rachel’s IEP discusses the accommodations/modifications she will receive.  Ms. XXXX (Resource Teacher) should be able to address questions you may have.

Characteristics:

  • Great sense of humor.
  • Outgoing and friendly.
  • Works hard.
  • Wants to please.
  • Loving.
  • Good reader.
  • Motivated by peers.
  • Needs routine and likes schedules.
  • Does things the same way after you show her once.  If you want Rachel to do something in a certain sequence, it’s important to use that sequence the first time. 
  • Needs extra time for some activities.
  • Independent.
  • Doesn’t want to be different than the other kids.
  • Loves to perform. Anytime she can give a presentation to show what she knows, it is effective.
  • Loves to be a leader/helper. 
  • Loyal and encourager. 
  • Advocate for herself.
  • Likes rules. 
  • Visual learner.
  • Thrives on small group projects.

What Rachel enjoys most:

  • Dancing
  • Acting
  • Music—singing and listening to music
  •  iPad activities
  • Reading
  • Board games
  • Movies
  • Hanging out with friends

 Additional Activities:

  • Rachel has been in 13 plays. Currently enrolled in – Christian Youth Theater classes.
  • Featured in “Just Like You – Down Syndrome”
  • Church Choir
  • Leigh’s School of Dance
  • Voice & Piano Lessons
  • Soccer & Cheerleading through Upward Sports Program
  • Rachel has been to Washington, DC and assisted in advocacy training and has visited with legislators locally and on the state and federal levels.

It is important to note that Rachel will be bringing her iPad to school and we hope to maximize her use of this technology. We are very committed to using technology as a means for helping Rachel to become independent and achieve her life goals. Her schedule is on her iPad. 

We look forward to a great year.  Please know that we will do whatever we can to assist and support you. Your teaching work is greatly appreciated!

Sincerely yours,

Personal Contact information

*Photo credit goes to Chuck France (NBC News & Getty Images.)

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