September 3, 2009

Welcome Back to School night - again?

Yesterday, I tried to count the number of back to school nights we have attended over the years. I stopped at 30, the math goes something like this 3 kids x 10 years (my youngest just started high school) - then I needed to add in the pre-school, nursery school and extra high school years - it was too mind boggling for me.

Both John and I always try to attend back to school night - and especially when it is at Alex's school. I figure the more the teachers get to know us the better it is down the road. This was our second at Alex's high school - but last night I had a conflict and John attended with Alex. I must admit, I was okay with that - but as a result - some of this account is second-hand.

Alex came home from school two days ago with her schedule. Her teacher had prepped her on the agenda for back to school night - so she could let us know. Thankfully, her schedule looked just like the one I had discussed with her "team" earlier this summer. Sometimes this is not the case. I think tomorrow I may discuss this in more detail. It may take me more than one day - as this educational experience has been full of twists and turns all the way.

According to the schedule, John and I were supposed to spend seven minutes in each of Alex's classes and then have three minutes, the amount of time the students have each day, to transfer to the next class. This transfer time helps parents feel the pandemonium that exists between classes - not sure whether I need to know that or not. Lucky for John, the first three classes of Alex's were in the resource room (which is the code name for special ed classroom).

I have always insisted that Alex be included in some regular classrooms -and as they say- this if often a crap shoot. I believe that every child should have the opportunity to be "included" - however, this can be a complete failure without the proper support. In Alex's case, she needs the right aide who can work with the teacher to modify the curriculum. She also needs the right teacher, to work with the aide. Then she needs the right support in the resource room to go over the lessons, and finally she needs the right mix of "regular" kids in the classroom. Much easier said than done.

This year Alex is included in two classes - and I really salute all those involved. Not all High School teachers have the dedication, flexibility and determination to help Alex succeed in their classroom settings - we found this out last year. This year, with a bit more planning and meeting, Alex's team was able to make this happen. John's report back about both those classrooms and teachers was very positive. I suspect there will be challenges over the year - but as long as we stay on top of it, it will work out.

One of Alex's favorite people at school is the Director of Athletics - he is the one that has sent the message to the athletic staff that Alex should be included in school sports. She played JV basketball and soccer last year - and as you know had also wanted to play football. He is one of those many silent heroes in our life. He does not feel that he does anything out of the norm - he just considers this part of his job. Last night he spoke with John and shared some really nice things about Alex. I am thankful for people like this in our lifes.

One thing John shared with the athletic director is Alex's invitation to represent Colorado in the National Special Olympics. Silly me - seems I had forgotten to tell the school. I feel like I have told everyone else - but once again - I am not quite as organized as I would like - go figure. He was blown away - I guess the Director of Athletics at a small rural high school does not often have an athlete that will be competing at the national level. He insisted to Alex and John that he make an announcement this morning to the rest of the school. Alex agreed.

Alex does not have many friends at school, rather she has 400 acquaintances. I can not go anywhere in our Valley without at least three people saying hi to Alex. By association this makes me popular. I must admit is is very nice to be popular - especially when you move to a new area - just never figured this was how I would obtain this status.

This morning, as we had the usual battles to get Alex up and dressed appropriately, I thought about the pending announcement. I envisioned Alex's burst of pride that would accompany the morning announcements and I smiled. It is sure to be a good day for Alex at school. Today she will have 400 friends.


  1. This one put goose bumps all over, Gary. Great story, well-written and kudos to Alex.


  2. thanks Michele - I appreciate your your writing is so incredible! PS The announcement was made and she got high fived all day!


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