If you saw me in traffic on Thursday night, you might have seen me blubbering at a stop light. I was out picking up a couple of little things for Caleb’s teachers to go with their Target gift cards. (You know…for keeping Caleb “on Target” for this year. So punny it hurts.)
I was trying to figure out what I wanted to say to his teachers and aides in their cards. Of course, it turned into a novel before I got home and I was choked up the whole time. First of all, how do you adequately thank someone for loving your child? And second of all, without too much of a spoiler, I knew this was going to be my last chance.
This was my best attempt. It still feels like it could never be enough.
Dear ___________ (I don’t want to use names without asking permission first),
Back in October of 2011, I felt like our world was kinda turned upside down. We thought we knew the path we were supposed to take with Caleb’s education. When that path had a dead end, we were pretty discouraged. We weren’t really sure where to turn next. As a mom, I knew I had to find the best fit for Caleb and I felt the weight of that decision so heavily on my shoulders.
While most schools would not have gone out of its way to help a family outside of the school zone, Ms. _______ (the principal) was so kind and gracious with her time to give us a tour of the school and encourage us with her suggestions. From the first moment we came to _____ Elementary School, we were made to feel so welcome. Once we met _____’s team (the ESE class), we knew we were in good hands. We were home. I was so happy with the progress Caleb made during his Kindergarten year. He really settled in and was so happy with his class and his friends.
This year in 1st grade, we saw new challenges with the transition to mainstream. As a mom, I was really nervous about leaving the nest. I worried that Caleb might be overwhelmed or that he would lose some of his progress when he was one of so many. I taught 2nd grade once upon a time and I remember how stressful it was to make sure each one of my 25 students got the attention they needed and deserved. All of those fears were quickly laid to rest. _____ (the mainstream teacher) has been the perfect match for Caleb’s first mainstream experience. He has felt so much a part of the class, even though he was a late arrival. A few days ago, he began to realize that he wouldn’t be in Mrs. _____’s class anymore. His tears just broke my heart but were also such a confirmation that his experience has been exactly what he needed.
I have seen such growth and maturity in my son. He has grown from a shy little boy into this confident big kid. Academically and socially, we are amazed at his progress. It’s the kind of growth that doesn’t come from just a good curriculum or a great classroom. No, this is the kind of beautiful progress that comes from teachers – and I am referring to all of you as you have each taught my son in so many ways – teachers who pour love and kindness into their students, their kids. This is the kind of incredible progress that can happen when speech therapists, occupational therapists, behavior specialists, aides, front office staff, cafeteria workers, special area teachers, guidance counselors, principals, coaches, pick-up and drop-off attendants, and so many others come together with teachers and form this beautiful community who cares. It has been an incredible sight to behold. I’ve honestly never seen anything like this family that is ______ Elementary School.
Because of all the love and support you have given our child, he has new paths and possibilities that have opened up for him. You have laid such an amazing foundation that I feel like his potential is limitless. After a huge amount of thought and prayer and tears, both happy and sad, we’ve decided to enroll Caleb in Classical Conversations, a homeschool group here in town. Caleb’s mind is so unique and beautiful. He has so many gifts and talents and I believe that this particular curriculum along with a flexible schedule and a one-on-one instruction at his own pace will really continue to build him up. I feel like the world has opened up for him and it’s all because of you.
There are no words adequate enough to thank each of you who have made this possible. Each one of you has contributed a part of yourself – compassion, patience, joy, peace, a love of learning and love itself – and all of those things add up to the most beautiful mosaic. We cannot begin to tell you how much it means to us.
We will never forget the role you’ve played in our child’s life and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We pray God’s most abundant blessings on you and your families.
With lots of love,
Jacob, Ashley, Caleb & Grace