Where Everybody Belongs

Yes in just a few minutes I am headed to IEP meeting #32 (or so). Friday I blogged about “IEP Wounds.” This blog was on the fly and I have been blown away with the response. Clearly, there are many people left wounded and scarred from the words heard at IEP meetings, physician appointments and from other professionals.  I’m ready to head over to the school for what I expect to be a productive meeting. I anticipate a relatively problem free meeting with a group of people who have invested in Rachel’s life. As always I’ll listen to Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Fingerprints of God” before I go in. It centers me.  I’ll update you on the outcome tomorrow.

But before all of that, I want to celebrate a little.  It is ironic to me that on a Friday when I blogged about IEP wounds and scars that Rachel bounced into the house and pulled out a letter that said, “Congratulations. You have been selected as an ITMS WEB Leader for the 2013 – 14 School Year.” She was gleeful. She wanted to text “her Leslie” and “her Bethany” and “my precious Aunt Saudia” and Maw Maw and Popie and  … you get it.  WEB is “Where Everybody Belongs.”  WEB leaders are the 8th grade student leaders who help to welcome the incoming sixth graders on the first day of middle school and provide support throughout their first year of middle school. WEB Leader Letter

A vice principal first suggested Rachel would be good at this. Our social worker encouraged it because she said “Rachel is a good advocate, a leader and responsible.”  She was nominated by a teacher, completed the application including an essay about why she wanted to be a WEB leader.  In her essay she said, “I want to be a WEB Leader because I want to help 6th graders. I want them to see that middle school is fun. I will help them to not be afraid or nervous. One of my WEB leaders was Andrea Stickler. She is amazing. I want to be like her. I think I could be a good WEB leader. I like to help people be happy.”

She was chosen. I signed the forms saying we understand her commitment and she had to do the same.  She will be a good little WEB leader and we couldn’t be more proud of her.

I can’t help but reminisce a little here. I couldn’t help but think about all the parents that just assume the IEP “team’s” recommendations are best. For whatever reason, they can’t, won’t or don’t say “We know our child best and this is what we want.”  I think how do we get systems change? I consider all the times we have basically forced others to do what we think is best (appropriate) for Rachel, forced them to think out of the box and do it in a different way than they are used to. For lack of a better descriptor, we have said that you cannot force our square into your round hole.The I in IEP is indeed Individual.

Then, I think about that teacher some seven years ago who said, “She can’t function in the regular classroom. She should have PE, Music, Art, Lunch and Library in the general classroom.” We said, “No thank you. We aren’t visiting the general education classroom and the LRE for Rachel is the general education classroom and that’s what we want.” I couldn’t help think …if she could see her now.

Congratulations Rachel and all the ITMS WEB leaders!



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