This year I have two children who are moving on to a more appropriate environment under IDEA. What we provide for them in the general education setting is actually considered restrictive to meet their needs- we're not able to provide what they need, which in terms limits their academic success. So they are moving on to other schools. This on paper always makes sense, and it even logically makes sense. I wouldn't have it another way. We are actually limiting a child's success when another placement could help them grow faster. These two children need these interventions.
It doesn't make it easier to say goodbye, or to look at a kindergarten student and try to explain why they are moving on to another school. PJ is one these students. Yesterday PJ, my awesome assistant principal, PJs mother and I all drove over to PJ's new school to check it out (he'll officially start there Monday). It will be great for him- he'll be working full time with teachers who are trained to work with students just like PJ. When we first pulled up to the building PJ announced, "That's not my school."
"What do you think is inside it?" we asked, totally ignoring his out-right un-acceptance.
"Mrs. Partner-in-Crime" he said loudly. We inwardly groaned. This didn't bode well.
But once inside PJ hit it off with the teachers over there. They allowed him to explore the school, showed him what to expect, let him ask questions, and introduced him to teachers so he'd know faces on his first day. By the time we left I think we all felt it was going to be a great place for PJ.
Then, right as we were getting out of the car PJ looked over at me. "Mrs. Lipstick," he asked, "Can I have a hug?"
I know PJ will do wonderful things at his new school. I know that early-intervention with children like PJ is the best chance at giving him a wonderful, successful life. It's still hard to see him go. Part of me feels like we failed, even though I know we did everything we could and more.
The other child leaving us has a significant hearing loss. Again, she is going to a place where every teacher who works with her is trained and has experience working with children just like her. She'll learn cued speech which will open the door of language to her world. And yet, every time she gives me a hug or giggles with me in the classroom my heart breaks. It is going to be hard to see her go too.
Both little ones start their new school Monday, which means their last day at the think-tank is Friday- when I'll be away at the Learning & Brain conference in Boston. It's hard to think I wont be there to say goodbye when the class sends them off. I want that one last hug and I want to be a part of making their last day special.
It's hard loving these kids- wanting what's best for them and at the same time selfishly wanting to keep them to myself. They'll both do great things in their new schools and hopefully I'll stay in touch with their parents and I can hear about all the amazing progress they've made. In the meantime I may pout for a few days about losing some of my friends.