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Dawn Jones – Freedom Elementary

I have a grandson who is in the 4th grade, Chance Reay, that I take care of who goes to Freedom with three other grandchildren who live with me. Chance has been expelled from five schools since he started kindergarten for behavior problems. His parents have not been together for several years, his mother has visited him only once in nearly a year. He has some social issues resulting from his family situation plus he has been diagnosed with ADD. He has a very difficult time focusing on schoolwork, he has difficulty forming friendships and feels “picked on”. He is a loner, he is working on learning respect for others including his teacher.

Mrs. Jones has taught two of Chance’s cousins in previous years and we thought she was a wonderful teacher. We had no idea how truly amazing she was until she became Chance’s teacher. She immediately realized his needs and offered to go above and beyond her responsibility as a teacher. She offered to have him stay after school as often as possible for an extra hour and a half so she could help him with his schoolwork. He has been able to concentrate with the one-on-one with his teacher without other children in the classroom to distract him. We decided that he would stay 3 days a week so he could attend Scouts and a sports class on the other two days with his cousins. She saw this need for him so he could learn some social skills and feel more accepted by his peers. He was very behind the other students the first few months of school, but she worked with him that extra hour and a half each day plus many recesses to help him get a passing grade and in some subjects an “A” or “B”.

Mrs. Jones has had to have an incredible amount of patience and commitment to keep helping this little boy as he sometimes has outbursts of anger with tears and unkind or inappropriate language, he talks incessantly, he does very annoying things that have nothing to do with what is going on in the classroom. Mrs. Jones has calmed him down, has disciplined him in a manner that helped his self-esteem, she has taught him how to respect her and the other children in the classroom, she has taught him respect for property. There have been times when he has disrupted the entire class and made it almost impossible for her to teach her students, but she has never been unkind or belittling to him. Even so, she has helped him be responsible for his own actions. She has emailed me at least twice weekly to keep me informed of his lack of progress or his progress, of his homework requirements, or what we can do to help him succeed. When his grandfather or I pick him up from her classroom at 5:00 each day, she shows us what he has accomplished and takes time to explain his progress.

We are so pleased with Chance’s improvements this school year. He is truly a much happier, more productive child. He comes home from school and does his homework before doing anything else. This would not be the case without Mrs. Jones’ dedication to helping him. Mrs. Jones has given of her time and patience, she has not given up on Chance. She has had every right to refuse to teach him, but not only has she kept helping and teaching him, but she has recognized and brought out his talents and abilities. Chance is a very intelligent child with an unusual aptitude in electronics. Mrs. Jones has helped him academically as well as helped him realize that he can accomplish many things. Mrs. Jones has literally changed Chance’s future, giving him a gift that has changed who he can become. She has taught him what it feels like to succeed, how it feels to have a teacher who cares enough to stand by him through his behavior problems and his difficult times. He loves Mrs. Jones and will realize when he is a little older that she is one of the amazing people who helped shape his life in a wonderful way.

–Sheri Reay