To the editor:
With the stressful and hectic graduation over, there are some experiences and advice I’d like to share with the parents of future graduates.
The first is to believe in your students. The second is to be a fierce advocate for your child/children, I cannot stress that one enough. If you know what your child/children are capable of, tell them, push them, and set your expectations together. Whether your kids have educational/learning difficulties or not, make sure that the school knows that you expect them to hold your students to the same expectations you have of them and that you will hold the teachers and administrators to that same expectation. Don't let the school system talk you into underestimating your child/children. Not everyone's experience will be the same.
I was talked into putting two of my boys into a “special class” that I was told would help allow them the opportunity to get up to grade level before high school. It did not, if anything I and they believe it held them back and made things harder later on. In an eighth-grade meeting, I was told it was unrealistic of me to think two of my boys would graduate with a diploma. I was told by an administrator that he was tired of parents coming into meetings banging the table saying my kids will get a diploma. At first, I was like whatever there are still four more years but the more time I thought the more mad I got. How dare he or any teacher give up on my child, or any child for that matter, with four more years to go. Why weren't they beating the table saying they will push with me till the very end to help?
Summer classes between middle school and high school — my kids showed me just how much they could push, how much they wanted the people that underestimated them to eat their words. With the help of a very dedicated teacher, I got all my boys back on the diploma track, and although it was not easy, they thrived.
Not only did they all finish with a diploma, they all finished early and the two that they said wouldn't do that, even ended up walking in their college graduation before their high school graduation.
So my advice to any parent is to find that one teacher or guidance counselor at each school level that will be your sounding board that believes in your student as much as you do. Keep in constant contact so things don't fall through cracks, advocate and beat the table till every resource is exhausted, and don't let a few bad apples poison the faith you have in your child/children.
I would also like to send a special thank you to a wonderful guidance counselor and awesome resource teacher. You know who you are. Without these two, I would have surely lost my mind and my temper.