A Gem Of A Teacher!

EDUCATION, MY VIEWS, PARENTING | | May 19, 2012 at 4:10 am

When we bought our home, it was based on the most we could afford but with as close to Boston as possible. I had never even heard of our town before then. Our neighbors said it was a great place for kids, hubby and I just wanted enough parking for our friends and a backyard to host them in. Fast forward a year or so and we found it to be true that our circle peppered with bikes made the perfect environment. The school system we were nervous about. We were both from engineering so we had tall expectations for what good quality may mean. It was a while before we dealt with the school system and when we did it was with a bag unknowns with discovering my daughter had Autism.

Before discovering that we made painful moves from school to school. Finally in a preschool class I expected to do as we were told and saw my daughter unhappy everyday. I grew up in the “just listen to your teacher” culture so bit my tongue. Picking up a zombie like kid but not before getting a daily earful from the smug teacher about how my daughter (mis)behave, was part and parcel of my life. To put into perspective, misbehaved was: touching stuff, leaning in line, moving a lot and not keeping still in circle time. Yeah, the kid had SPD (sensory processing disorder) which was clearly not being addressed. With a mixture of sadness of the state and resignation that this was the best I finished the year but not before I questioned the plans for the future.

In spite of the fact she was high functioning I insisted she go to a special needs intensive class (which was out of our district) despite objections raised. My daughter hated it at first, and egos clashed and though I winced at the strict rules I could see some difference in this teacher already. She showed affection. The therapy had dramatic effects and my kid went to a regular mainstreamed class. Although she wanted to not be in the “special” class she did not associate it with that special needs teacher and I got to see that love one day as I spied them hugging in the hallway like two lost pals.

A new school and no aide was met with much trepidation as was using a public bus. We worked those 8 weeks of vacation preparing for it with a special summer camp and though we found out we were lucky to have a teacher that everyone raved about, we were still nervous.

The love was immediate. My daughter loved her teacher so much that she would look at the school parking lot affectionately, even on weekends, in search of her teacher. The sensibility and smartness of her teacher came clear to us in meetings as she mentioned that she held back exploring my girl’s advanced knowledge on some subjects since my kid wanted to be like the others and do the same work as them, even if it was boring and old hat to her. The teacher knew that social skills were important and relented until they formed to a level and was then ready to move onto more challenging work. And challenging it is since at a developmental testing at Children’s Hospital, where they have an academic portion, they tested her on division and she knew it. Since I had never taught her (she is a 1st grader)that I was shocked, and that is not easy to do since I keep the bar higher for her.

¬†While excitement ensues going to a regular class (at least it meant the therapy was helping), it also meant that we would be open to the world of some unmonitored meanness. We were (unfortunately) correct. I would count on my fingers the number of incidences but I would run out of hands. And though my instinct urges me to either dig a deep hole and protect my daughter from the mean world, or sort out the meanie myself (hey, I can’t be the only mama to think like that), I did neither. When I chat with parents some of them discuss how they let kids be mean back, and their defense is that kids need to protect themselves. I really have a Gandhian philosophy – we need to be nice else we become visions of our tormentors. My advice was to be nice but to not tolerate disrespect and to react in an appropriate way. Standing up for herself without resorting to meanness was our mantra. This is tough enough to teach regular kids (and I know some adults who could use that advice) but a kid with Autism adds a new dimension.

These were issues I would not expect to be easy for a teacher to deal with easily, but not only did she deal with it, she set the bar high for how. This teacher never made me feel like awkward or like I was making it up. She dealt with it promptly and capably. Every single issue was dealt with on the 1st report and was normally resolved by the 1st attempt. As I was worried that at some point she may have said “enough already”, I heard no such thing. If there was ever any irritation even on her part I never heard it or she must be amazing at masking it with the amazing love she shows to every kid in her class.

I have caught her several times in stores piling up on goodies for her kids and she is that teacher who fervently celebrates every occasion with her kids and I have never in my life seen so many kids in a school hallway show so much love for a teacher. I know some may say that maybe it is because she has been a teacher for 20 years, I say that it could have had the opposite effect: keeping the oomph, enthusiasm and pure love of learning is a tough call. You know how some people look at affluent areas to spy those good schools, well I say a good teacher makes a good school. We actually considered not moving (as we considered other job options) solely based on this teacher. She gave me my faith back in (amazing) teachers. No only did my daughter survive under her teaching, but she thrived. Better yet: my child is happy, unbelievably so. ¬†Dear Ms S, you awoken the passion in my child and seeing my child’s face all lit up makes this mama’s heart sing a happy tune.

Sure I have some amazing teachers in my day but these days when I think “teacher” I will forever have in my mind a picture of Ms S!. You know how they say teachers are a nation’s treasure? Well I think we just found ours! Thank you Ms S, you will remain a part of our hearts forever. May the world always show you the love and kindness you shower on your “children”. We love you!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, and part of me being a “Hallmark, Life is a special occasion ambassador”. Personally loving the opportunity to share a window to my life.

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