Samuel’s Kindergarten Program & Graduation
June 30, 2010 | Updates
I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned how much I loved Samuel’s kindergarten teacher this year. If I haven’t, I should have. It would have saved me having to tell each of you individually throughout the year :)!
Samuel’s special education class is a good class and his teachers there are great. But, he gets to go to the “regular” kindergarten class for 1/2 an hour each day and that creates a special set of concerns for me - most of which center around him “fitting in” and being included.
This year, Samuel’s teacher (Mrs. K) was incredible at including him in her class. She went above and beyond anything that I expected and it made a huge difference for Samuel, me and for the other kids in his class.
Mrs. K treated Samuel like a superstar. And it made a huge impression on all the other kids. I could tell you story after story about how accepting they are of Samuel. And in the end, I would credit it all to his teacher and how she treated him.
About a month into school, we went to school a little late. As I pushed Samuel towards his classroom in his stroller, his kindergarten class passed us in the hall. They were all in a single file line and passed by us one by one. As they did, they each (and every one) stopped and waved, stuck out their hand to touch Samuel’s arm or foot, said “Hi, Samuel” or went out of their way to smile and make sure he saw them. Every.single.one.of.them made sure they said hello as they passed in their own little way. The first 5 kids were cute, the next 5 were heart warming, the next 5 started to make me emotional and as the last few passed, there will tears in my eyes. I can’t even explain how much it made me love those little kids for their innocent acceptance of my little boy.
A few days before the end of school, I went on a field trip with Samuel and his class. We went to the local high school to visit their swimming pool. Ninety kindergarteners surrounding a pool puts me a bit on edge :). But it was so fun to watch them listen and learn about the water. Towards the end, I shared Samuel’s story. I tried to do it in a way that they would understand. I wanted them to know that water is fun IF we are safe about it. Hopefully, they understood.
As we walked back to their school, two little girls asked if they could help push Samuel’s stroller back. I agreed and thought it so cute that they didn’t mind being at the back of the line walking slowly back to school as the other kids ran and jumped their way back. As we walked, we talked and they asked about Samuel. In the meantime, Nathan was jumping in front of Samuel’s stroller playing a sort of game of “tag” with Samuel. Another kindergartener soon joined in. But Nathan was jealous and didn’t want the other boy to play with Samuel. As I explained to Nathan that he needed to let the other boy play, it warmed my heart that there was a little jealousy going on :).
And then one of the girls said, “What’s wrong with Nathan?”
To which I replied, “He doesn’t want to share Samuel.”
She thought for a moment and then her little reply melted my heart, “You know…he really should share Samuel because he gets to see Samuel all the time and we hardly EVER get to see him.”
This year, the kindergarten classes did their end of the year graduation and program together. Samuel’s teacher told me to be sure to come because they had something special planned for Samuel.I can only tell you that I was absolutely beside myself at what they performed. Ninety kindergarteners sat before us and sang and SIGNED eight or nine different songs. These kids knew the signs to ALL.OF.THEM. They probably know more signs than I do. It was overwhelming as the warmth filled my heart and I realized what a great service these teachers have done for these kids and for kids like Samuel - who often have to communicate in “different” ways. How much more accepting will these children be of them if they understand signing themselves? It was incredible.The last song, was dedicated to Samuel. It’s a song by Rachel Cook from Signing Time. The song was “Shine”. It’s actually a song that I love and can’t sing without crying. It talks about kids who are disabled and who shine in their own way and in their own time. That song did make me cry…especially as the kindergarten teachers sang it and those cute kids signed it.
Samuel’s kindergarten class made a book this year where they each contributed a drawing and a short story. In order to include Samuel, they wrote his story for him. It is the last story in the book and it is beautiful. I’ve included scans of the pages below. The story is TRUE. No exaggerations. I’ve seen the kids cheer for Samuel on a daily basis as he enters the room. I’ve heard of them jumping around in front of him as he chooses one of them with his wiggly little feet. And I can’t explain it, but they truly do love him and accept him like he is one of them. They know he’s different, but they don’t care.
Thus I have to end this year with a huge THANK YOU to his teachers! Thank you for including him. Thank you!