Jonathan and I love to read. Actually, I enjoy reading but Jonathan LOVES to read. He reports that he got into trouble in 4th grade for reading when they were supposed to be working on something else (I’m pretty sure that was probably math). When we learned we were going to have a baby, we both began to catalog the books we would read together. The Velveteen Rabbit, Hop on Pop, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Hobbit and on and on. I had a prenatal diagnosis (more on that as we go along this blogging journey) and one of my first selfish thoughts was of course, “She won’t be a Razorback cheerleader.” Neither was I and I don’t have Down syndrome but no matter! Then, one of my next thoughts was “Will she ever read?” That truly pierced my soul because I know that reading is such a windor to enjoy the world and to thrive in this world. Even before she was born I read to her though, and she had a full library of books before she ever arrived. We’ve spent hours reading and there have been very few nights of her 11 years that haven’t been with her daddy reading with her as she goes to sleep at night. That is their special time. When she was about four, a watiress at a popular restaurant in Memphis came up to me and said, “Those kids can learn to read if you send them to a “special” school.” I was so shocked and mortified that I just smiled at her and silently prayed for her to go away. Even with my limited understanding of it all, four years of doing life with Rachel and Down syndrome – I now knew that children Down syndrome could learn to read and could achieve. Sounds silly, but that comment has been one of many of the motivators for Ms. SassySouthernGal to stay the course on my deeply held convictions regarding education. Long before Rachel we were advocates for public education, and since Rachel we are advocates for inclusive education. Rachel didn’t go to a special school. She has always gone to her local public school. We’ve always made it clear that reading was our academic priority. Yesterday, I attended the Reading Celebration Awards where Rachel received an award for reading 5,000 minutes this school year. Last year she read 6,000 minutes. Wonder if I should try to find that waitress and let her know that Rachel is slacking?
Way to go Rachel! That is a lot of reading! Congratulations on the amazing award and achievment as you definitely earned it.
Deborah Jones VanLeuven (Facebook) responded:
Look! she’s wearing a Clifford outfit! Reading is our priority here too! I told everyone in every IEP meeting that I want her to read first and foremost and everything else is icing on the cake!!! Well, we have our cake, our icing and all the extras too!! Love you!
Jawanda Mast responded:
I love that picture of her reading her book. I couldn’t get it to move that picture to my posting of the blog.
Marilyn Dickson responded:
Congratulations Rachel!! You are the BEST.