Thursday, May 30, 2013

Student of the Month

I think we've all seen those bumper stickers that read "My Child Is Student of the Month at __________" -- they are so prevalent that they've spawned snappy comeback bumper stickers like "My Child/Cat/Dog Can Beat Up Your Honor Student" and made their marks on American auto adornment.

I knew, going into this school year, that James' new school did the Honor Student thing. I cringed. I usually shy from the fads of the crowd, attended parochial school for 12 years, and was raised in a rather anti- "toot your own horn" family. It so went against the grain.

And then the school year started rough. It spiraled down toward disastrous. While part of me knew that eventually each child would be one of several Students of the Month at assemblies, I never expected James to get there any time soon. He was the trapezoidal peg that the school kept trying to pound into a round hole. There were so many things going wrong.

Then we pulled James out of school and did Independent Study at home for a few weeks, to keep matters from getting worse. I calmed down (a bit), pulled focus, and changed tactics. I asked the school for help.

What we got, was something of a freakin' miracle. A new classroom and teacher, with classmates James knew from the previous two years. Most importantly, an amazing aide who "got" him came into our lives. She went so above and beyond the proverbial call of duty that reading James' progress reports from his first and third semesters make him sound like two different boys.

School went from stressful, unhappy, and exclusionary to exciting, organic, encouraging, and positive. We feel so incredibly grateful and lucky.

And in the last month of school, this came home in James' backpack:

Yes, and I went to see him receive his awards.

This has been a wonderful conclusion to a challenging year. I am so happy James had a chance to participate, and that he was chosen at a time when being Student of the Month could truly be a proud experience for us all.

James, sitting with his teacher, aide, and classmates.
His good friend from First Grade has his hand on his shoulder, to make James feel better amidst all the noise.

James receiving his award from his principal, who helped make all the wonderful changes happen.

Student of the Month James -- bumper sticker in one hand, certificate and prizes in the other.

James' teacher, aide, and classmates, congratulating him.
Way to go, James! We're so proud of you and how far you've come. I'll even tape that bumper sticker to the back window of our car, if you want.

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