Wednesday, September 9, 2009

First Day of School!

Today is the first day of school for my daughters. And with this new school year, we are faced with new hopes, and dreams, and with new concerns, and new goals.
My oldest, Gaby, starts 4th grade today, she was accepted into the Stellar Program and I'm very proud of her. I am very hopeful of this Stellar Program, and I hope this experience is good this year. In the past Gaby has had a tough time in school, and I think it's just been some bad luck. In first grade she had a nice teacher that she LOVED, however at the ending of the school year, her teacher gets suspended for about a month while they investigated some kids comments that the teacher was hitting them. So she spent a full month at the end of her 1st grade year with different substitute teachers or by being switched around from classroom to classroom and not a real stable learning experience. I once spoke to one of the substitute teachers and she told me that the only reason she had accepted substituting my daughter's class was due to my daughter, because she was so well behaved and sweet and smart, the other kids where terrors! I was shocked, flattered that my daughter was highly regarded but horrified to think that all the rest of the kids where seen as terrors. The Teacher was found not guilty in the investigation, and my daughter was never harmed, or any other kid, but the situation still gave a negative impact on my child's education.

For second grade, Gaby's teachers recommended her for the Top Class, as she was an excellent student. I was so happy, and had high hopes for the upcoming school year, and then...the first day of school came. I was excited, and when I went to pick her up from school, try and meet her new teacher, I was encountered by a woman whose first words to me where this: "Your daughter already started on the wrong foot in my class!" I was mortified!!! And my daughter came running to me crying!!! That teacher didn't even bother to say: Hi Gaby's mom, my name is... I have a concern about something that happened today in school and I wish to discuss it with you... But NOOOOOOO, that woman was so rude! I told my daughter to give the teacher a chance, I tried having meetings with the teacher, but I felt she treated me as badly as she did my daughter, I felt disrespected and got the feeling that the teacher felt that Gaby was just like me...flawed! We are both Highly Sensitive, but I don't consider this to be a Flaw in any way. She was such a strict woman, she put timers on and told the children exactly how many minutes they had to complete each assignment and if they didn't then they where in trouble. This boot camp approach might work with some kids, but it didn't work at all with my Highly Sensitive Daughter. My daughter couldn't deal with that kind of pressure, she is extremely smart, and well behaved, but she's also a free spirit, she's creative and she needs to be able to express herself and does not feel ok when people try to make her fit into a specific mold, and that teacher couldn't understand that, something that her previous Teacher had understood too well. I remembered her First Grade Teacher telling me how Gaby would sometimes seem to be distracted and would go into a corner of the class room and pick out a book, yet when the teacher asked her about what she was teaching at the moment, Gaby was able to respond accurately, which made the teacher understand that just because Gaby appeared to be distracted and sleeping in cloud nine, she was actually still paying very much attention to everything the teacher was saying. Gaby tried unsuccessfully for 4 months to fit in and adjust to this "top" class without any good results so I went to the school and transferred her into a different classroom, it wasn't the top class, so the work seemed pretty easy for Gaby, homework was a breeze, but then my next concern was that she wasn't being challenged enough... I had hopes that 3rd grade would get a better top class teacher, however they transferred the same 2nd grade meanie into 3rd grade so she was not assigned to the 3rd grade top class just because the school knew that I would not allow my child to be with that teacher, so she ended up in another class where there where very difficult children in it, a bully and some other problem children, and the teacher who had to leave as well for a month to take care of her ailing father in France, and even though the Teacher was nice and loved by my daughter and going to France to take care of an ailing father is a remarkable thing, this gave Gaby again the same experience as in 1st grade by having no stable learning environment for about a month in the end of the school year.

This year in the Stellar program, I overheard that the teacher will be the writing teacher my daughter had before, and even though this teacher is more approachable, and has high regard for Gaby, this is a teacher that has caused Gaby to feel sick every day that she had to go into her class which was once a week, not due to things that where done to my daughter, but by being exposed to the rude behavior towards the less well behaved students, which in turn upsets my daughter as she sees the teacher's reaction to the children as inappropriate and loud. Gaby has a very hard time being in loud environments and I hear this teacher is a yeller. Gaby says that she overheard of the possibility of a different teacher taking on the Stellar Program, so she's hopeful, but we are both crossing our fingers that if in the event that this writing teacher becomes the Teacher of the 4th Grade Stellar Program, maybe by being in a classroom with the best behaved and smartest kids, there will be less inclination for this teacher to yell. Lets see how it goes.

For Elsie, the little one who's 3.5 years old. This is her first time in school, she will be using a uniform and all! She's very smart, didn't cry at drop off, she stayed happy and playing. However I still have some concerns, even though the teachers are nice, the school is decent, I noticed how the classroom was less than perfect, and even though I'm not really looking for perfection, I would have liked for them to have nice educational toys that where not broken or without batteries. I feel inclined to make a bake sale or some kind of activity to raise funds to get better supplies for that classroom, and then it makes me think about the other classrooms that probably need it as well. I would be OK with putting on my credit card a few hundred dollars worth of school supplies and toys, and give the school some nice toys that I have that could be better used at school. But my mom tells me that the classrooms will be ready by next week, that they are really not ready now, and that this week it's just a transitional period to have the kids meet with each other and that classes start next week. So I'm just going to wait until next week to see what changes are made and then see what stuff I can do for the class room.

With all these issues it makes me question the education of our children. I mean schools are struggling and there are these kids who have parent's who are not really mentally present in their lives. As a member of the PTA, and the Leadership Team at my daughter's school I have seen the concerns of the school staff and how they have tried to reach out to parents of problem children with no support. I've seen how parents fail to participate on PTA meetings and how they don't come to the activities that we make for the parents, it seems like some parents don't even care. And it might be the area that I live in because I really doubt that parents everywhere are like this.
It makes me think about better options for my children, it makes me concerned that she's not being exposed to the best possible environment. I bought a book called: Your Child's Strengths: Discover Them, Develop Them, Use Them and it has a workbook for parents to use with their children and I thought it would be a good idea to give a free workshop for parents or teachers at the school using the ideas from the book to help with the improvement of the quality of the children's success in school. Also maybe teach about High Sensitivity to Parents and Teachers so that they can better understand these kids and help them succeed.

I wish I had better options for my daughter. I know there are some charter schools in the area, however they only accept kids in Kindergarten, and they are chosen by lottery (which I think it's ridiculous) also private schools are too expensive for me, and it makes me feel helpless. I am involved as much as I can in the schools and I still feel like there's little impact I am making on my child's education. I wish that I could do more, but I'm not sure where to begin? Any Ideas???

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