Friday, July 30, 2010

Sometimes You Don't See It

Jack has spent the past month attending ESY (Extended School Year), which is basically half-day special ed summer school. I mean, at least I assumed he was attending ESY. I got a note from the teacher after the first week introducing herself and then I heard nothing else.

All I knew is that I put him on the bus in the morning and I got him off the bus in the afternoon when the only change in him or his belongings would be that his snack would be gone from his backpack. Other than the snack eating, he could have been panhandling on the side of the road for three hours a day for all I knew.

I do know that every morning, starting the very first day, he was excited to go to school.

 The first day. The ice pack is in case of bus barfing.

 Waiting for the bus the first day of school.

I do know that as the days wore on, if anything, he seemed more eager to get to school. He would run to the bus every morning and would always tell me that he had a good day when he got home, although it was difficult to get much more than that out of him.

He seemed to like school so much that this past Wednesday, while I'd originally planned to take him out of school for the day to take him to see some children's theater, I decided to let him go to class instead because he'd missed it for two days due to school power outages.

Regardless of his obvious joy with school, I was a little irked. I had planned to get gift cards for his bus driver and aide as well as his ESY teacher and paraeducator. But after hearing nothing from the teacher for four weeks, I almost didn't send the gift into school.

I'm so glad I did.

My phone rang today and because I didn't recognize the number, I didn't answer it. After my phone beeped to let me know that I had a message, I listened to it. I got a little worried when I heard the caller identify herself as Jack's teacher, afraid that there had been some kind of problem.

It was exactly the opposite.

I'm so glad I didn't answer that phone call because now I have this utterly sincere and emotional message from his teacher saved on my phone:
"I'm calling just to let you know that I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Jackson this summer. I've learned a lot from him. I know he's learned a lot from me. He's very bright. Very, very smart. Extremely smart. I also want to call and thank you for the gift card. Really, your son has been a gift to me. He has taught me so much in these four weeks and I wasn't expecting that and it was a very pleasant surprise. My paraeducator is also very thankful. If you'd like to talk to me in more detail, my cell number is..."
This afternoon, when Jack got home, his backpack was a little heavier than usual. I opened it to find his ESY-goal progress reports and a stack of papers. That stack of papers took my breath away.

Here are some of them:

The simple machines. I really didn't think he was listening to me.

And on the other side of that one:

"In the summer I enjoy Camp Stimey because it is fun!"

Then I found several detailed photos of the Angry Birds iPhone game that he is obsessed with.

If you've played this game, you know how accurate this is.

Mixed in among his drawings were several math sheets focused on identifying, counting, and adding money. And this:

Notice that he erased the "son" that the teacher put on his name.
He cracks me up.

Based on the worksheets I found, Jack's ESY class spent a lot of time on rhyming words. See how many rhyming words you can find in this drawing.

I found: bat, rat, cat, (second) cat, and a hat.

And then, this drawing of a child, obviously Jack, playing hockey.

I guess I should get on securing equipment for hockey season.

I was floored. I almost wept. I saw the great care and nurturing of creativity that his teacher gave to Jack this summer.

Not an hour later, Jack piped up with, "I want to go to the summer school I went to the last two years," and then, "I AM A SECOND GRADER!"

It looks like Jack really did learn something in the past four weeks. I learned something too, but my lesson came only today: Sometimes, even when you're not seeing it, great things are happening.

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