Meet the Teacher day was fantastoriffic!
How's this for a start? We walked in to the office of the new school, and Jaysen locked eyes with one of the secretaries. They just stood there for a few moments, and recognised each other at the same exact moment. He was excited "I know you... from kindergarten!" And he did- she was one of his paras when he was in kindergarten (before the new principal took over, and things fell apart) at the old school! So already, there was a familiar face.
She called his SpEd teacher down to meet us. His SpEd teacher is a lovely woman, with lots of experience and shining recommendations. She lived up to every one of them. (Yes, I know it was just Meet the Teacher Day, but still.)
She took us to the resource room to meet Jaysen's parapro.
I had made Jaysen these booklets, one for each "teacher"- I put a magnifying glass on the front, with the words "Can You Find...?" On the inside, I put a picture of the teacher, some brief facts, and their name.
When we approached the resource room, Jaysen has a blast comparing the people in the room to his "clues". When he found his para, he was excited that she was putting together his folder (The new school had asked the old school to send all of the things that Jaysen used throughout the year). The para didn't miss a beat. She invited Jaysen to help her put his book together, and show her which labels to use for his visual schedule. She asked him questions, and interacted with him like she knew him for years.
The school psychologist came in to greet us- I adore this man. He was the school psych at the old school (again, before it fell apart), and he really knows his stuff, and cares about these kids. The para took Jaysen on a tour of the school (complete with the checklist booklet I had made him- can you find the bathroom? Gym? Cafeteria? Office? Music Room? Etc.), the psych and SpEd pulled out their list of questions for me.
"We read his IEP, and would like your input on a few things..."
Did I just hear that correctly?
You (already) read his IEP...and you want my input on a few things???
I am loving this school.
We discussed the plan of action because Jaysen's IEP is so restrictive. It had to be restrictive to protect him, and make sure that what happened at the other school, didn't happen again. I didn't like the fact that it was so limiting, but it's something that had to be done. I started to open up to the Team, that Jaysen had such a successful summer at camp and ESY, and I really just wanted him to be as much of a "kid" as possible. They agreed.
The original plan they had was to start him off in the resource room and slowly integrate him into the GenEd classroom. Wrong idea, as it totally goes against the essence of the IEP, but it turned out not to be an issue because they said that since he had such a strong desire to be with his peers, they wanted my approval to start him off in the classroom, and pull him, in small increments, as necessary as things arise. I felt an immediate rush of relief. It was exactly what I was thinking, but they came up with it, so all I had to do was agree. Stuff is even sweeter if they think it's their idea. Bonus.
Then we were on to the GenEd classroom. We walked around- very strange seating, as the desks were in two long double rows instead of clusters of four. The psychologist told me they would like my opinion on where Jaysen's seat should be. Umm.... here's where I don't know shit from shinola. My child was rarely allowed in his own classroom last year, and when he was, he was sat off in the back corner of the room, alone. I studied the layout, and told them that anywhere, as long as he had an end-seat, would most likely be fine. They said that was what they were going to suggest to me. Double bonus.
Being realistic, I know that problems are going to arise, especially once academic pressure is put on Jaysen, but the difference is, I have faith that this time, this school will be able to put a plan into action, and not just turn their back on him.
I am starting to breathe. Starting to.