Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Blessings of Public School

Through our struggles with Madelle, I have been ever grateful to the public school system in our community.  More specifically, I am eternally grateful to her school counselor.  At times, I have been very worried about school.  Homework was left undone and grades plummeted.  Attendance at the end became spotty at best.  Not once did I feel any negativity from the education system.  I felt truck loads of support.

Many events have happened over the course of 2015.  Madelle's school counselor contacted me in January to alert me to Madelle's visit.  I was frightened, but I was assured that Madelle was a great student and would be fine after a few therapy sessions.  A counselor was recommended.  I was still scared, but the school counselor, Mrs. A, wasn't worried.  As the problems became revealed throughout the months, Madelle's school counselor was as shocked as we were.  Madelle had been functioning so well, no one suspected her difficulties.

Now, I know there are many caring educational professionals in our school district, but no one has walked the trenches with me like Mrs. A.  She responded quickly to every e-mail and phone call.  She gave me her cell number so that I could text or call after hours.  I have no idea how many times she advocated for us to Madelle's teachers and the administration.  Classes were switched or dropped.  Many times, Mrs. A told me not to worry about school, just worry about home.

At the end of the school year, Madelle couldn't face going the last week.  We fought.  We cried.  Finally we declared ourselves defeated and went to school for a meeting.  We worried that Madelle might be held back or have to attend summer school.  At the meeting, we were treated with compassion.  Our instructions were to heal during the summer, get the meds stabilized, and we would strategize in August.  What a relief to be able to let go.

As the school year approached, I worried.  Madelle spent most days resting.  She struggled going to church.  Her and her best friend tried to interact, but they both were emotional.  I worried that expecting her to go from no real social interaction to a six to seven hour day, five days a week would be too much. 

As it turned out, the first couple of weeks were tough.  At one point, I let Mrs. A know that getting Madelle to the bus stop was like convincing her to jump out of a plane with no parachute.  I felt like I was sending Madelle to her death on the one hand.  The military mom wanted to tell her to put her combat boots and suck it up.  Mrs. A suggested we do both.  One day a week I can let Madelle stay home if her homework is caught up.  This took the pressure off a little, but she still struggled.  Socializing during lunch bothered her.

I am not sure how we did it, but we came up with the idea of letting Madelle come out to the front of the school to sit in my car with me and her puppy during lunch.  The puppy helps calm her down and feel secure.  Mrs. A gave her permission.  Thankfully enough, at the same time, Madelle and two other girls have connected.  In the last seven school days, I have only gone twice.  Madelle is starting to adjust.  If she has a bad morning, she will call.  This arrangement has helped her feel safe along with two solid friendships. 

Of course, this is middle school.  It is a tough time for the healthiest, most well adjusted kids.  But I have complete faith that the school is behind us 100 percent.  I thank God for the entire faculty, especially Mrs. A.

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