Tuesday, May 10, 2011
(real names of people and schools have been removed for privacy reasons)
Dear Mrs. School Superintendent,
As parents, we often spring into action when it comes time to advocate for our kids. We make phone calls, schedule meetings, write letters and do whatever else is necessary to make sure that our children are being treated fairly and receiving the necessary tools to succeed. However, far too many of us sit back and say nothing when we have been blessed with an amazing teacher, school nurse or even office staff that makes the job we call parenting a little easier. Today, I would LOVE to tell you a little bit about our blessing. Her name is C; she is the nurse at our school.
For you to truly understand why she has been such a blessing to me I will need to tell you a little about my adorable son Justin. Justin is a bright, loving 9 year old who is getting ready to embark on the big world of 4th grade next year. This journey did not come easily. From the time Justin started the EELP program, it has been a long road of advocating and tears. All of which has been worth every second spent because he has come a long way. Even so, it has not been easy and we still have a ways to go.
Then, last year, our lives changed forever. Justin was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes. Not knowing anything but the damaging complications of this disease, I was terrified. Terrified by what the future would now have in store for him, terrified that I couldn't take care of him and terrified because getting Justin's needs meet in school had already proven to be a challenge without adding to the list. So what was I going to do now?
Thankfully, when Justin returned to school (my puffy red eyes and all), we met C. She was comforting, calm, understanding and walked me through everything I needed to do in order to make sure Justin would be taken care of during the school day. At the time I had no idea how grateful I would be to have her caring for him. C has become a great mediator and advocate for us.
- When Justin has been excluded from class activities where snacks were involved, NOT per my request, but by the choice of well meaning teachers who I know have the best intentions, she advocated that all we want as parents is for our children to feel normal and for them to be included.
- When Justin was called out by name and embarrassed in front of his classmates for being six minutes late to art class on a half day due to his daily blood sugar check, C was there at the meeting with his care plan in hand to advocate on his behalf.
- And just the other day (after a low blood sugar reading of 38) she heard that he got in trouble in Music because of his "temperament"... she quickly called the teacher as a reminder that an abnormal or drastic change in personality is a sign of a low blood sugar and that he needs to come to the office immediately. You see, it wasn't until his regular classroom teacher observed his behavior that he was tested. If he would have been tested during music, he would not have become so dangerously low resulting in less chance of seizure.
C's support does not stop at the school level. She raised money and attended the JDRF walk at the St. Pete Times Forum this year. She also participated in the Jingle Bell Run because this year's proceeds were being donated to JDRF. She did this on her own time. AND through her giving heart; she has taken a young child who has been faced with anxiety and low self esteem due to all the challenges he has been forced to overcome, and made him feel loved, accepted, and safe. In addition, she has reassured him that he is not alone in this journey.
As a parent of an exceptional child, I often have to discuss challenges, grades, ideas etc... with teachers. I have had year's where I was scared to breath. Thankfully, this year has been a little different. Having a resource who is on top of Justin's medical needs, mediating when necessary and communicating with me at every curve, has lifted a great weight off of my tired shoulders. Her quick action has also saved several people from unhappy phone calls. She does this because she cares. C is an asset to the school and a blessing to all that cross her path.
I just thought you should know.
Since this letter, C continues to advocate daily. You will still see JDRF tennis shoes plastered all over her office door around walk time. She sells them at school to raise money for the walk.
C not only supports "her kids", but she is a huge support to me as a parent. She has truly lifted some of the weight off my tired shoulders... and there is nothing in the world I could do to thank her enough for that.