We did't need to. Evidently, a copy of something I had posted on Facebook about the experience and my strong feelings about the treatment I saw of the children in that classroom, as well as my determination to keep Katya at her current school where I knew she was treated with respect, made it's way to the decision makers at Katya's school. I do not know this for a fact, but I am pretty sure from some things that were said, that is precisely what happened.
That strong declaration evidently set the stage, because we walked into that meeting, and the school officials wanted to know what we envisioned for Katya for next year.
#1. Katya in a nuerotypical classroom with pull-out services as needed, much as she has this year.
#2. In addition, we wanted Katya to have a one-on-one aide with her who was fluent in basic ALS and able and willing to learn more as needed to help Katya keep communicating with her school teachers and peers.
#3. Also, we wanted Katya to have instruction two to three times per week from someone who is fluent in ASL.
Katya's current teacher spoke up quickly and firmly and said, "I think that's all apprpriate and reasonable and I agree that is in Katya's best interests!"
WHAM. BAM. About that fast, everyone else had agreed!! We were almost shocked. (Except not 100% because we already had a good idea that they had viewed my strongly worded Facebook Declaration.)
But then, they got to drop the final shock on US.
When I mentioned that whoever taught Katya next year needed to be someone who was like her current teacher, Ms M. as much as possible, "because Ms M. doesn't let Katya get away with bloody murder--she's no nonscense, but she loves Katya and Katya knows it!" big old grins were exchanged around the table. And then Mrs. M. said, "Well, I will be teaching her next year!'
We were SHOCKED. Wait a minute? Ms M. teaches Kindergarten! And then they explained--"We decided to do a split classroom next year with Kindergarten and First Grade, and Ms. M. is going to teach it!"
Well, I have to tell you, what burst out of me was a very emotional, "THANK YOU JESUS!" as I threw my hands into the air! I think I shocked 'em all, but they looked pleased! And yes, do I EVER MEAN IT. "Thank You, Jesus!"
Because, this is the absolute best thing for Katya in terms of reducing anxiety and increasing learning. Katya will be in the exact same classroom, with the exact same teacher who knows and loves her, with the added benefit of getting more grounded in the kindergarten basics that she needs, and yet exposed to the new and more advanced 1st grade concepts! Katya can benefit from the best of both worlds--just as kids in the old multi-grade classrooms did! Having been in those a number of years as a kid, I know they can be helpful.
When thinking about what we wished next year could look like for Katya, we had wished she could still spend some time in Ms. M's room reinforcing basic Kindergarten concepts. But we knew Katya should not simply repeat Kindergarten again. While she needs much of the teaching, she didn't need it all! She has moved beyond simply Kindergarten, although she's not ready for a full and typical First Grade curriculum or exposure.
A split classroom, with a teacher who knows her well is absolutely the most marvelous idea for Katya, and is a true blessing from the hand of God.
I am so glad we did not agree to settle for less than the best for Katya. Sooo, sooo thankful!!! Because if we had, we wouldn't have had THIS for her.
The school has come such a very, very long way in understanding and accepting Katya's unique challenges and agreeing to work with them appropriately. What we have gone through together has not been easy--for them or for us. But it was necessary to get Katya the services and supports she needs to become as well educated as possible, so she can fulfill her full God-given potential.
And when I see papers like this coming home . . . well, it makes every single battle we have fought for her worth it.
This was a paper from today.
We will never give up on our precious daughter, God helping us. We will continue to advocate for her until such a time as she can advocate for herself.
Our family knows Katya is an amazing child, created by the Hand of God. A child who needs to be lovingly but firmly helped to learn. A child who wants to learn. A child who is loved and is learning to love.
Oh our sweet Katya, how very much you are loved and cared for tenderly by God and so many others! Some day, I think you will understand much more about the miracle your life is to all of us.