Bennett goes to an incredible public school that has the best staff. No really, they are the BEST. It takes special people to work in Special Education and somehow we have hit the lottery.
I will begin by sharing that some special-needs parents fight hard for inclusion – I am not one of them. For some kids inclusion is a great fit, yet for others inclusion is not most honoring to the child. We have found ourselves in the latter camp. Bennett’s school is 100% kids with “severe and profound disabilities” and we LOVE it. It is an oasis of JOY and CELEBRATES kids for exactly who they ARE. The halls are SACRED as they are lined with standers, walkers, lifts, adapted bikes, and supported seating. There is a courtyard in the middle of the 1960s school structure that has a wheelchair accessible playground and shaded seating for outdoor learning. ALL are welcome and kids have been taught here for over fifty years. In our opinion, our school is the crown jewel of our public school system.
There are children from ages 3 – 21 who fill the classrooms of this unique school. It is our hope and prayer that one day Bennett will graduate the year he turns twenty-one #classof2028. He started attending as as a 3 year-old preschooler, (shout out to Ms. Yvonne!) has already worked his way through elementary (shout out to our two favorite Arlenes!) and middle school (shout out to Mr. Rob!), and is currently in high school. We have no plans to ever transfer him and are beyond grateful to have this school as his learning environment. The offerings in his school include Speech/OT/and PT, along with a multitude of speciality services who rotate through the school…plus a full nursing staff and an indoor pool for kids to swim/float, and get water therapy.
One of Bennett’s beloved teachers, Ms. Cathy, retired during Covid as virtual learning was not her jam (totally understandable). Cathy set a high standard and crafted best-practices as a Special Ed teacher that simply blew our minds. When she was thrown into Zoom school in the spring of 2020 she started her own YouTube channel that included lesson plans in full themed dress-up with entertaining props pulled from her home. Prior to Covid, she spent decades teaching and is simply a gifted educator (and ironically the neighbor of my dear friend Paige!).
During Christmas break of 2020 (after her retirement that previous spring), Cathy dropped off to us a special gift…she had a hunch that Bennett would enjoy the music and motion. As seen below, Bennett clearly LOVED it (he still does). We have a deep fondness for Ms. Cathy and all the teachers who seek to KNOW and celebrate their students passions. For Bennett that = MUSIC & DANCING.
When the fall of 2021 came around, we got word that Bennett would be having a new teacher who had previously taught Special Ed, moved to administration, and was coming back to teach in the classroom. We had no idea the GIFT that was being given; yet as the school-year has progressed, we are now VERY aware of the blessing that Mr. Dan is to Bennett’s life. Dan is full of energy and is also is a photographer on the side – I think you will see below that he is MULTI-TALENTED.
The words “it takes a village” to raise a child – especially one with unique needs, is an understatement. Our gratitude and appreciation for Mr. Dan, Ms. Cathy and the entire team at Bennett’s school is something that is hard to put into words. Thank you never seems like enough…in fact it feels trite.
We roll him onto the bus each morning (as Ms. Valerie, the bus aide, warmly welcomes him with “Hey there, Benny!”)…and rely on the entire school team to keep him safe, cared for, changed and fed, meds administered, muscles physically attended to, and educated in every sense of the word. It is because of THEIR GIFTS and TALENTS that the world of learning is opened up for Bennett to EXPLORE.
Thank you so ALL teachers out there, most especially the ones we are blessed to call Bennett’s.