Last Year of Middle School

School doesn’t start until next week but we’ve been gathering supplies. Rachel saw this at Hobby Lobby and thought she needed it.

cheeta calculator

It is a Cheeta bling calculator. Anything to help with math I say.

She has also changed a bit about what her notebook should look like. This year’s was easy. We just used One Direction magazine pictures and a view sticky letters.

8th grade notebook 8 grade notebook back

So here we are about to start 8th grade and our final year of middle school. While that doesn’t seem possible I found myself looking back at my blog posts from two years ago when we were headed to middle school. These were the questions I posed on middle school registration day two years ago:

Will her schedule would look anything like what we had discussed and how these new folks, as well-intentioned as they are, would deal with this high-maintenance mom?  How much will we need to adjust the schedule? Answer: The schedule only needed minor changes and she had some of her friends in each of her classes.

Which set of teachers will she get? Will the teachers really want Rachel in their class and be willing to work with us on the accommodations and modifications that she needs?  Or will she be seen as a burden? Answer: She had great sets of teachers in both 6th and 7th grade. We have had two issues that were easily taken care of in large part because of her outstanding resource teacher and great administrators. She has had exceptional teachers who overall have just figured out how to make it work for Rachel and the other kids and have celebrated with us as we see light bulbs go on in Rachel’s learning experience.

Who will be the new paras and will they be good at communicating with me?  Will Rachel use her good manners and respectful manners with the new paras because she DOES NOT LIKE HELP and can be a bit hard on those who try to give her help? Answer:  A few bumps here and there but like always she has a host of people who believe that she can and will exceed expectations. She hasn’t been too hard on them.

How will we keep Rachel organized? My little OCD-tendencied girl doesn’t carry those tendencies over to school organization and it makes it quite challenging. Answer:  Email and her iPad have really helped with this, and over the past year we have really seen Rachel work to be “sponsible” which is of course Rachel speak for responsible. She wants to be organized and responsible. 

Regardless of all our planning will she get in the a la carte line every day and spend $50 on lunch the first week and gain five pounds?  Answer:  She figured out pretty quickly that the regular lunch line is faster so she rarely gets a la carte. She is allowed a special treat once a week and only twice in two years has she broken and done it twice in one week. She has also maintained her weight pretty well but I credit that to tons of dancing. The girl likes to dance!

Will there be new kids who set her up to be bullied or take advantage of her?  Will her existing friends find it “uncool” to be her friend now that they are “cool” middle school kids? Answer: Minor problems mostly with boys who she likes.  What am I to do with this boy crazy girl? Her true friends continue to be her friends and are quite loyal to her.

Then there is the “daily PE” and changing clothes routine. From talking to all parents, this is one of the key areas of anxiety for everyone!   Answer: PE went pretty well.  Rachel’s locker has a key and her PE locker has a key and the PE teacher keeps it in the office for Rachel. If needed, Rachel was allowed to leave the class before PE one or two minutes early. She enjoyed PE and did pretty well.  She came home and showed us her exercises.  

On that day I wrote: “I’ve heard all the stories about the changes and challenges in middle school for all kids but more for those who are differently-abled.  Will we dodge those bullets? I suspect we will dodge some, endure a few, and overcome most.”

Answer: We have dodged some, endured a few and overcome most. 

Today, I can say with confidence that so far we have had a very positive middle school experience.  As I mentioned, I give credit to the teachers, related personnel, administrators, Rachel’s friends, Rachel’s parents, preparation, practice, hard work and Rachel. I give Rachel a lot of credit because she is the captain of the team and her inner desire do her best and to just be one of the kids has made a difference, too.

Be not deceived though, I am still a little nervous about 8th grade and the start of a new school year and all the things we have to do to make year three a success too!  I’ll keep you posted!


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  1. Jawnda – I saw an article on NBC News and remembered you from 4H in Arizona!! Love your blog, glad to see you are doing well and your daughter is 14! I remember when she was born!

  2. Bryna – so good to hear from you! I think of my days in Arizona so often. 4-H is the foundation of my life. I say frequently that my ability to advocate, organize and mobilize are a direct result of my 4-H years! Thanks for reading and following our adventurous life!

  3. I was blessed to spend last year working at IT as a para with Rachel, along with other students. My family had to move from Kansas this summer and I very much will miss IT and especially Rachel. A hard-worker with a ready smile, fun and friendly, she was a joy to work with. I hope she has an amazing year as a BIG 8th grade! I am so glad I had the opportunity to get to know your amazing Rachel, she is missed!

  4. Ms. B – thanks for reading. We didn’t know you had moved. You will be missed. Rachel was fretting a bit this morning about getting new paras! I assured her they would be great just like all of you and I had her read your note! Best wishes and if you’d like to stay connected we can figure out a way to exchange email addresses! You were great with Rachel.

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