PICTURE THIS: A group of end-of-the-year 5th graders, sit expectantly as their differently-abled classmate struggles to begin his TED Talk. “You got this!” They tell him, as his eyes begin to fill with tears, and then he asks, “Can Remy* stand next to me?” Sure enough, a very tall 5th grader pops up and stands directly in front of him. “Just tell your talk to me. Don’t worry about anyone else.” He says encouragingly. And bolstered by his friend and his classmates, he does just that.
THIS. This is why you want your child to go to a school that includes EVERYONE. The level of patience and compassion that they will game cannot be calculated. Another one of my students a deeply compassionate 4th grader gets anxious every time I switch groups. “You will keep Paul* and me together, right, Mrs. Ellison?” His friend is also differently-abled and he always wants to make sure that he is near Paul so that he can support him.
My own Offspring were stunned as they left our inclusive, supportive elementary school to discover that other schools had different approaches with differently-abled students. They were genuinely surprised if they saw someone tease or lose their patience with them simply because they hadn’t really seen it before. It perplexed them. “They should know that they need extra time.” My son wants told me. “Why don’t they get that?” The answer to his question is simple; they had no experience with students who didn’t fit the expected mold.
I love our school. You’ve probably figured it out by now. If you were to see it you would think it looks like any other school built back in the 40s. We got a new paint job last year, and got some gorgeous new furniture, but our school is pretty old. No one would look at it and think, “You can see it! This place is AMAZING!” But it is amazing. Our administration is amazing. Our teachers are amazing. Our after school care team is amazing. We are a hidden gem.
In the same way that people can look at the outside of kid and make assumptions, missing out on all the incredible depths of intelligence and creativity hidden within. People can look at the outside of our school and miss out on something that is truly unique. If you come to our school, you will not only receive a solid education but they also get to experience a true community. We are a community of learners who try to find ways to encourage, support and uplift all learners; helping everyone to build on their strengths, and strengthen areas of growth. It might be Day 170 out of 179, but we are still here - working, learning, supporting each other and we strive every single day to . . .
Keep moving forward,
*all names have been changed