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.

STORY 1:

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.

STORY 2:

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.”

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STORY 3:

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.

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STORY 4:

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.

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As I was packing up to leave his classroom after Mother’s Day Tea this year, I ended up across the room from Samuel and watched him as he sat in his chair alone. One child after another came up to him to tell him good-bye. There was no one there coaxing them to do it. There was no one standing by Samuel to even see them do it. They just did it on their own for the sheer fact that they wanted to. They would touch his arm or grab his little foot. They would wait for him to look at them. They would softy tell him good-bye or tell him to have a fun day. And he would break into a big grin each time they did.

Thus I have to end this year with a huge THANK YOU to his teachers! Thank you for including him. Thank you!

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7 Responses to “Samuel’s Kindergarten Program & Graduation”

  1. had tears rolling down my cheeks….beautiful story!!!

  2. Know what? I’ve really appreciated these stories. They taught me some very important things, Teresa. And here I thought I was pretty good with special needs. I’m ashamed because I haven’t understood as much as these precious kindergarten kids…and especially their WONDERFUL teachere, who taught them these very important things…which will affect their them in a positive manner for the rest of their lives.

  3. Know what? I’ve really appreciated these stories. They’ve taught me some very important things, Teresa. And here I thought I was pretty good with special needs. I’m ashamed because I haven’t understood as much as these precious kindergarten kids…and especially their WONDERFUL teachere, who taught them these very important things…which will affect their them in many positive ways for the rest of their lives.
    I’m going to put this, including the pictures in my journal, for our posterity to learn from.
    I love you, Teresa…and I love you, too, Samuel!
    Your forever Mom

  4. Teresa, again you have written a master piece. This lastest story is priceless. I didnt think I had many tears left in me, but it was good I still had a box of tissues on hand. Thank you for taking the time to write these accounts. You will never regret doing it. Give my love to Samuel and all your adorable family. I still think you need to publish a book someday on Samuel’s story. You are so gifted in expressing yourself. Keep them coming. They make my day.

  5. Precious, precious story! I haven’t written to you before, but my Samuel had his near-drowning accident in March, 2007. I’ve been keeping up with your precious Samuel for a long time. My Sam is entering Kindergarten this Fall and I pray he has as wonderful of an experience as you described. What a blessing! Thank you for sharing - it warmed my heart and gave me hope for a bright year! Blessings to you!

    Kahne Seidel

  6. Wow, beuatiful, I am crying!

  7. And now I’m crying. I’m scared for Colby and Kindergarten and I hope he has the same great experience.

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