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The Night before the 1st day of School

REWIND to 2005 – Last year’s 1st day of school, 4th grade:

Last year, my son switched from the 1st, 2nd and 3rd grade school to the 4th, 5th & 6th grade school. My son had a very rough time in 1st,2nd and 3rd grade… He was not looking forward to switching schools at all. JCH had been picked on for the first three years of school, complete with the nicknames “disgustin’-justin” or “one-eye” because he had a droopy left eye lid. He had poor social skills, lacked confidence, there were pressing family issues, he worried more than most children at age 5 and came home most days crying about how all the kids hated him.

JCH was different than the other kids, he knew it, they saw it, and as a result JCH developed somewhat of an anger management issue. JCH was different because we had a rough go of things for quite sometime (see book) mea culpa, mea culpa. (No, that’s not the title)

In any event, he was NOT looking forward to changing schools, while he was MISERABLE at the old school; he always knew what would happen. There were no surprises. He did not know what 4th grade , or a new school, would bring. Neither did I.

But for the grace of GOD AND mom & dad, the summer before 4th grade, my son started Frog bridge day camp. Now I don’t know what it was about that camp, or how things came to pass, or if it had anything to do with us being reunited as a family once again, but, JCH developed a certain unmistakable confidence that summer.

That fall, when school started, he didn’t expect to make friends, he wasn’t going to try to impress anyone. He expected to return to the same old negative attitudes. I was concerned, my son would have to endure another school year turned off to education, because of the way he was treated by the other kids.

Then, it came, the 1st day of fourth grade…He came home HAPPY. He had this teacher Miss G. Miss G. was special, and JCH took a liking to her from day ONE.

The first day of class, Miss G., asked everyone in class to introduce themselves and then use one word that best described their personality. Other kids used the words athletic, happy and talented yet with no specifics’ given as to what talent they had. Then it was JCH’s turn to answer. He looked Miss G. square in the eye and he responded to the question with this… “Well not to brag, but I am intelligent.” Miss G. took note of this comment. Miss G. took the opportunity to let JCH know she had heard and respected his answer, when another teacher came into the room to introduce herself to the class as the speech teacher, Miss R.

Miss R asked Miss G., “So, what kind of a class do you have this year?”

Miss G. said, “Well, I am pleased to say, we have some happy and some athletic kids and there is even one intelligent boy (Miss G. looked right at JCH and winked when she responded to Miss R.)

It was at that moment, my son decided to trust her. When JCH came home that day all he could do was talk about Miss G. She knew that he was smart, she was pretty and …she was so nice mommy.

And, she was. She was amazing. She listened to him, she saw my son the way I see my son. She took special interest in him, she gave him every chance, every opportunity to succeed and he lapped up every shot he was given. She encouraged student council, which he won. She had him involved in “banana splits” a group setting where children raised in different family settings could work together to resolve divorce, moving, single parent or other living conditions. Miss G. went as far as re-arranging a classroom assignment to include JCH’s favorite band THE BEATLES as part of a learning exercise. Miss G. made him a Beatles / John Lennon CD. She paid attention to him. She listened to him. She laughed at his jokes. Miss G. brought in home cooked apple pie when JCH had a phase where he repeated a quote from his favorite cartoon show BILLY and MANDY ” I like pie, I like pie”….she made him a PIE, and served it in class. It was his best year ever socially. He was sad at the end of the year, Miss G. and he had covered much ground, academically, emotionally, and socially. He loved her for what she had given him, he was incredibly aware of the difference she had made in his life as was I.

PRESENT TIME: 2006, The Night before the 1st day of school- 5th grade:

Shopping done, backpack packed, dinner and dishes done, clothes picked out for the 1st day, settled in on the sofa to take in a Simpson Marathon, phone rings…Guess who called…Miss G., calling to talk to JCH.

Miss G. wanted to know how his summer was, what teacher did he have this year, will he stop by her class to see him in the morning, she will put in a good word to his new teacher about him, will he be running for student council again this year, how much she missed him… 30 minutes they were on the phone chat-chitting (Dane Cook version of the word). JCH’s face lit-up as he spoke to her. My heart was filled with a security, knowing that this woman would still be as involved in his life as much as she could this school year as she was last year. When they were done talking, my son looked excited for the first time to go back to school. After all Miss G. was there. I spoke with her on the phone and she re-assured me that she would also stay in touch with me this school year as well about JCH. If I need anything, to call her, stop by her class room on parent-teacher night this year and say hello. In her eight years of teaching, my son was her favorite student.

What Miss G. did for us last year alone, would have been enough. I can NOT get over the fact that she called tonight. I am blown away by her dedication and passion for my son to have a happy and successful new school year. She is one of those teachers that come along once in a life time. She came at the exact right moment my son needed a teacher just like her. Miss G. truly changed my son’s educational course in life. I am blessed, she was there last year, and I am blessed she will be there this year to watch over and love my son. Miss G. “gets him” she knows what he has been though, she see’s all the potential in him, she protects his spirit and for that I can not be more grateful.

Here’s to another year… 5th grade… we’ll see you in the morning!!

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