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Sunday, April 10, 2011

School of the Holy Childhood

Four years of praying, four years of advocating, four years of hope, sadness and frustration. It has been four years of time wasted in places she wasn't herself and her potential was not being nurtured. We have watched a decline in her spirit, in her self esteem, in our daughter. We have struggled for understanding as to why others didn't see things the same as us. Why God hasn't done something to make this right for her. It has been four years, four very long years. When I look back on it all, sometimes I am angry and bitter. I am sad for the time wasted, for her years of heartache. I know when we first looked at School of the Holy Childhood four years ago, we wanted it badly for her. We saw it as the perfect place and we prayed others did too, but it wasn't to be. We took steps to get them to see our desires more clearly. Slowly we would win this, no matter what, we would not give up. Teale was moved to a district based classroom from an integrated setting in her 4th grade year. We advocated hard that it still wasn't the right fit. Teale was only doing specials with typical children and she was not participating. She wouldn't even talk to the kids she had been raised with since kindergarten. These kids were sweet, caring, compassionate, but Teale was aware of her differences and slowly shutting down. Our hearts broke as she was never invited to a Birthday party or a play date. We were her only friends and she was often painfully lonely. We stayed in that program two years, not because we saw any potential or hope, but because there were no other better or appropriate programs. The only other program we had ever seen and wanted passionately for out daughter was The School of the Holy Childhood. We applied the next year and the year after that. Upon our third year of applying we thought we had it, we were keeping the faith that all our efforts were going to pay off. That year the rejection letter came on Mother's Day weekend. Mark opened it & at first wasn't sure what to do about protecting me from the bad news. Eventually he couldn't just be alone in his sadness and shared the bad news. My Mothers Day had never been so sad, I could barely rally to pretend to be excited about my handmade gifts and special meals my children gave me. I felt like a failure as a Mom, I knew it was the best place and yet I lost again. I couldn't attend our church service that Mother's Day for fear of just crying the whole time. I sulked and grieved and then decided we would start advocating again, harder. We started early, we pulled out all the stops and used every connection we could. We talked to everyone we could about our desire to get Teale into this amazing place. We knew the more people we talked to, the chances of finding people with connections was stronger. We worked on it from as many angles as we could think of, asking for help and prayers, often. It has monopolized our thoughts and our lives. We knew we were winning the battle when the principal of School of the Holy Childhood said she can barely go anywhere without someone talking to her about our Teale. People were out there advocating for Teale, probably far more than I will ever know and people prayed. Last years blow was devastating, so we made another tactical move and took Teale out of district. We would try an all special education school to see if we could get some of our daughter back. The match was poor, a school with too many behavioral challenges, her fears were high. She had made some gains though, so we knew we were on the right track, a school with all special education peers seemed like the best place. She needed to know she was not different but part of a community. Teale needed to start to live her life, not just be a teacher of compassion to others. A place where she would feel more confidence in herself, a smaller setting, one with less explosive behaviors. Again School of the Holy Childhood seemed like the only good match. When they called me to see if I was going to apply again, I took it as a good sign, but was scared to become too excited. When Pittsford School administrators agreed to finally tour with us, I was filled with hope. The tour was amazing, I saw it once again through Teale's eyes and thought, this could be the community we are so missing for her. Beau came on the tour, he had been saddened by her present placement & I wanted him to see where we wanted his sister. He tried to talk and couldn't at the meeting between us and administrators of both SHCH and Pittsford. He was filled with emotion, just like Mark & I, that this was where she belonged. When his words were finally able to leave his mouth, I couldn't be more touched or more proud of his insight. The administrators were moved and impressed by his caring and understanding of his sister's needs. His words were his own, we had not coached him, he knew Teale belonged at School of the Holy Childhood. When we left the meeting I told Beau, if she gets this, you own it. The letter came last week and I cried again, four years, but we had persevered and won the battle. Next Fall Teale will attend a beautiful place called The School of the Holy Childhood. My thanks to all of you who advocated and prayed for Teale. We are overwhelmed by the support we have gotten in this battle. Beau, you are to be the most commended though. Your ability to finally get the adults to see things clearly and give Teale what she needs and deserves. We are proud of what Teale teaches to others, but we are especially proud of what Beau has learned from living with her. She is a person who deserves the best chance to be the best she can be, just like all of us!

7 comments:

  1. Ellie,
    I am Faye's friend Lori. I have met you at the girl's group. I am SO very happy for Teale and all of you! You are right - there is no better place. Holly started at SHC this year and we couldn't be happier. It is a beautiful place with beautiful people! I read your blog and cried for you all. I know the pain and the joy that you so eloquently described. God Bless you all!
    Lori

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  2. Thank you Lori, we could not be happier! We finally have a community & a home away from us for Teale! I look forward to seeing you there next fall!
    Love, Ellie

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  3. Pittsford fought for Teale's placement to begin in the summer & SHCH agreed! We are so excited to have only one more transition to make. Teale will start @ SHCH in July 2011 until she is @ least 21. She may even do adult programing there, as there are adults who have been there over 35 years!

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  4. Ellie,
    I am so happy for Teale and you. This is an answer to prayer. It also shows we must never give up in advocating for our special children.

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  5. Nina, Thank you, we are so happy to have Teale in a safe, loving place!

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  6. Hi Ellie!

    This is Deb Hellems Baker. We just toured yesterday at Holy Childhood - and it was wonderful!!!

    I had no idea that you have a daughter who goes there..<3

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  7. THAT'S CRAZY! Why were you there?

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