I wish the end of the year wasn’t so crazy. But…amid the craziness, sometimes something profound emerges. Today, I received an email from one of our Education Assistants. She works with a high functioning autistic student who is transitioning from Grade 7 to high school. It’s been a journey with this student and at times, I’m sure we all wondered if we were getting anywhere with him. But at our Grade Seven celebration assembly on Friday, the years of work by so many caring people became clear.  I wanted to share the EA’s reaction to the day. As I read, I could not help but be reminded that it truly takes a village to raise a child. In schools where the narrative is one of caring, collaboration, and team-work – where every adult invests in every child – special things happen. Continue on and read as the “village” is thanked…

Many of you approached me yesterday, after the Grade Seven ceremony, to congratulate me for the great job I’ve done with my student in the past few years. As good as it felt to hear the words, I don’t believe I am the one that deserves all the credit. I know I had a part in it, but my student wouldn’t be the “dude” (as he calls himself) he is today, if I were the only one who had contributed to his growth and success. Every one of you had a part in this! Some of you a bigger part, some a smaller one, but you have no idea how even the smallest gesture that probably meant very little to you, actually ended up making his day, on several occasions.

I’ve been sitting here for hours trying to make a list of how each one of you has gone out of your way to support my student during the past 8 years.  I realize that it is impossible to cover it all, but I think that the following list includes most of it.

So…THANK YOU for:

  • stepping into my shoes, when I couldn’t come back in September and doing an AMAZING job with him. Thanks for helping him cope with the stress of a big change in his typical routine and most importantly, for guiding him through the process of making friends. When I came back, I couldn’t believe my eyes! He was actually asking kids if they wanted to play with him and their answer was…YES!!!
  • allowing him to walk around in September 2011 and after careful consideration on his part, letting him choose his own Grade 7 teacher/class (and not taking it personally)
  • making him feel like a valued member of every class he’s been in, over the years.
  • making him feel cool, even when he was not acting that cool.
  • never giving up saying “hi” to him, even when the answer to your greeting was a steadily growing scary growl 🙂
  • looking for me around the school to let me know that he had said “hi” to you, without you initiating it, because you knew that it was an important milestone in his progress.
  • cheering for him, as he entered the gym, at the Grade Seven ceremony yesterday.
  • teaching him the “fist pump” greeting. That was a big turning point in his life that built his confidence and when he started believing that growing up and moving on to high school wasn’t such a bad thing.
  • for always having faith and seeing the good in him.
  • smiling, even when you were walking your Kindergarten class down the hallway and knew that he could have gone after one of those cute little things, at any time.
  • letting him walk into your room and park himself on your couch and having to carry on with your work.
  • taking over when I needed a break. “Some of us” are not good at asking for help, but you always knew when it was needed.
  • making his day, every 1st day of the month or so, when you put the Westcoast Reader in my mailbox!
  • last but not least…THANK YOU for everything you know you have done and I forgot to include in this list!

If I could, I would also thank all the students that have been around him, over the years and have ALWAYS accepted him for who he is, no matter what…especially those who have “taken one for the team” from time to time, and never retaliated.
Also, I think I can speak for all of us, when I say that the biggest thank you should probably go to his family. Thanks to them for being the family we all wish to work with and for standing 100% behind everything we have done!

3 thoughts on “It Takes a Village

  1. Antonio,

    Thank you for blogging about this! It makes me smile knowing where he was and now where he is. Small acts of kindness can pay big dividends in people’s lives. I’m glad I am amongst so many caring people every day. The email brought a big smile to my face and tears to my eyes.

  2. Thanks for posting! I was intending to as well. A wonderful example of community working well. Having watching him and his siblings all the way through it was an amazing moment and I sat there praying it would go well for him. It was truly a graduation for us all.

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