Thursday, May 8, 2014

Who Does That?

We are wrapping up Diddles' first full year of Head Start (Preschool) in the next couple weeks.  Today they had a little celebration with certificates,  songs, and a little lunch social with the parents and kids.

I wanted to write down a few wonderful memories of this year, to give you a glimpse of the amazing and talented PEOPLE who are in her life.  They love her.  They care about her.  They want to help her succeed.

Mona is the head secretary, who helped us fill out the paperwork and was the calming voice at the end of the phone when I nervously called the facility after her evaluation revealed her as qualifying for "special education".  It's a scary thing to realize your child is different, and has identified challenges that your other children did not have.  Mona is the gatekeeper, who knows every name and face, and invited us into her office, simply explained things so I could understand, and helped us get the ball rolling.

Who does that?

Stacey is Diddles' head teacher.  She's serious and silly and structured and laid back all at the same time.  She's very personable, and I consider her a friend, and not just a teacher.  She makes visits to our home, to make sure we have the basics covered (food, clothes, snow boots), as well as the things that are just fun (stickers, books, activities).  She sent Diddles home with a board game from school for us to borrow during Spring Break.  She invited us to her summer job at the golf course snack bar this summer, if Diddles wants to say hi.  She calls me to tell me about Diddles' bad days and her good days, always following up a rough report with, "Don't worry about it.  It's just fine.  We can handle it."  Today during their little celebration, she had a certificate for Diddles, and Stacey said, "This girl challenges me daily, but she also lets me know when it's time to go home."  So awesome!

This photo was taken by Diddles on our last home visit.
I love Stacey's expression.  
Who does that?

Aleta is Diddles' School District Special Ed teacher.  Diddles learns to do hard things from Aleta.  Things like sharing and focusing and finishing something she doesn't want to finish, and going to a center she doesn't want to go to.  Aleta appreciates Diddles' strong will, and loves her fiesty spirit.  Aleta gives her choices, and lets her feel in charge.  Aleta just sat me down today at lunch and asked what Diddles' plans were for the summer.  I told her I wanted to sign her up for some Parks and Rec things, but that I wasn't sure which ones would be best, given her needs and challenges.  She went through a list of things she thought would be a good fit for her, and then said, "and I'd love for her to come ride my horses with me this summer.  I think she'd love it."  She gave me her number to call and set up a time/day.

Who does that?
Putting toothpaste on wax paper for brushing time!

Brushing teeth with Assistant teacher,  Adrienne

Rolling out "floam" - a center she loved!

Krista is Diddles' School District Paraprofessional (Parapro).  Krista can sense the need before it's even there.  She knows when to step in and whisper an encouraging word, when to help her work through a frustration, when she needs a "reset".  She's also great at giving me ideas of things to help her with at home:  short phrases, simple directions, giving her choices within the box of what must be done, REWARD good behavior with a reset activity, rather than REWARD negative behavior with a reset.  At Diddles' IEP, I was expressing how her classroom struggles were spilling over into her church classroom as well.  Her teacher was getting frustrated with her behavior and lack of attention (completely understandable).  She is "that child" in primary, and last week was brought to me because she wasn't cooperating with the teacher.  It's been really challenging for all parties, and I didn't know what to do.  
Diddles with Stacey, and Krista in the back, clapping :)

Krista (who is also LDS) offered to go sit in on her church primary class (on her day off, on HER Sunday), and see if some of the classroom strategies would help Diddles at church.  When explaining why she was doing it, she said, "I love Diddles and want her to be successful wherever she is."  Josh sent me a text on Sunday when I was in UT saying, "Krista's here!"  I can't tell you the lump in my throat and the warmth in my heart.  Krista sent me a long email of things that worked, and things she observed, and a bunch of ideas that would help both student and teacher.  It was fantastic.  Then Monday, when Josh struggled to get her on the bus (again, completely understandable), she left this voice mail when she didn't arrive at school on time, "Hi Josh, this is Krista, Diddles' teacher.  I wanted to let you know that we are excited for Diddles to come today and if you could tell her, I brought my bucket of My Little Pony for the kids to play with.  That might help her get here.  All right.  Thanks.  Bye."

Who does that?

Ambyr is her speech therapist.  She gets pulled from class to have a speech session with Ambyr.  Ambyr is a loving, kind, patient person.  She makes what could be drudgery fun and engaging.  We've seen/heard so much progress this year in her speech.  A few weeks ago,  Diddles was sick and had a fever, so we were giving her doses of chewable children's tylenol.  They taste like Smarties, so Diddles would request her medicine frequently.  With perfect pronunciation, she would say, "Mom, I need a pil-LUH (big emphasis on the 'L' sound).  I could tell they'd been working hard on making that L sound at speech.  I appreciated that she would take so much time to focus on that sound, since it's a starring sound in her name!
Diddles and her speech therapist, Ambyr were featured in the annual report brochure

Who does that?

Speaking of school bus, there's one more person I'll share about (there are many more I could write about), and that's Annette.  Annette is the aide on the bus.   I don't know what the position is called, but whatever they're paying her, they need to double it!  Annette gets kids safely on the bus, buckles them in their seatbelts, and delivers them safely to the school.  Since Spring Break, Diddles hasn't wanted to go to school.  It's understandable.  School's hard.  They make her do things that aren't comfortable.  She has to pay attention and listen and write and share and talk and think.  It's much easier to stay at home and play all day!  But, that bus comes at 8:00, and if Diddles isn't at the mailbox, Annette hops off the bus and calls her name, "Diddles!?  Time to go to school!  C'mon!"  I can't tell you the number of meltdowns that have been averted because of Annette.  She's got such a great way with the kids, and sets the parents all at ease, after what is often the most stressful time of the day.  She isn't afraid to get them dressed, grab their coat, or pick them up and carry them over her shoulder to the bus.  "Sack of potatoes" is what she calls it.   Have you ever lifted Diddles?  That's a big sack of potatoes.

Who does that?  

Diddles' teachers, that's who.  

I'm so grateful for each of them, and it's a wonderful confirmation that Heavenly Father loves us (and our children), and puts us right where we need to be.


Sarah said...

Wow! What amazing influences. She (in turn your whole family) is blessed.

Ps, love her curls!

Trish and Matt said...

What wonderful teachers! So glad she's got such a great setup at school. It warms my heart to hear about all her special helpers.