We were nervous moving to a new school. My son is “high-functioning” autistic (and I used to work with special-needs children, so I’ve seen various teachers deal with special-needs students in various ways). My son doesn’t handle change well. I took some comfort when we first met his new 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Johnson, because she had such a good feeling about her and her classroom. But her class size is large, and she has quite a few students with special-needs, not just my son. Then I learned that she has a personal, physical ailment that causes her to be in a lot of pain. I prepared to do damage controle because, as good as she seemed, no can succeed against so many odds.
She sure showed me! For the first time since kinder, my son is getting A’s and B’s. Better than that, he is flourishing as a person! My husband and I have been pleasantly suprised at this incredible progress, but the real shock comes from seeing the rest of her class. She isn’t just sheparding along a boy with autism in order to keep test averages up – the entire class thrives as a TEAM. They watch out for eachother and care for one another scholastically AND personally. That does not happen by accident. Mrs. Johnson is a genious! Each and every one of her students will be prepared to face the rest of their lives when they leave her classroom.
I thought I’d seen the best. Now I KNOW that I have. Even really good teachers struggle as they try to make the best of having a special needs student in their classroom. Mrs. Johnson gives the impression that she’s THANKFUL for every student and their diversities.
If you ask her students about her, there is not one that, while admitting she’s no push-over, will not immediately sing her praises. There are NO bullies in her class. She has taught them to celebrate learning, to celebrate education, to celebrate challenges, and to celebrate each other!
I invite KSL to come see for yourself. You will go home a better person.
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