By: Vallery Schofield-Miller
The day I became a Mom was the day my entire world as I knew it changed. Although I had been a responsible adult for many years, this whole new world of responsibility was foreign to me.
This little person was depending on me to make the best possible decisions for him that I could. I agonized over what kind of diapers I should use; bottle-feeding vs. breastfeeding; to vaccinate or not (I read many articles on the pros and cons); even if I should have Matthew christened. It seemed like this list of decisions grew longer every day. Even though I was enjoying all the milestones he was reaching, I found myself feeling overwhelmed at times.
Then came the age where Matthew should have been babbling or saying a few words and he wasn’t. There was nothing. He had been born tongue-tied and it was snipped when he was 2 weeks old, and then again at 16 months after some scar tissue grew back. I began questioning myself. I had been an Early Childhood Education teacher for many years before becoming a stay at home mom. Why was I suddenly having issues with the choices I had? Because he was my child, that’s why, and it was my responsibility to advocate for him. So, I made the call to an Early Intervention Center, he was evaluated and qualified for services. We spent nearly 2 years in EI services and then it was off to the public school system for further therapy.
I met many professionals at the school in our town and they were very helpful with suggesting activities to do at home with Matthew, giving him the help he needed to get on track for kindergarten.
His kindergarten teacher was a very patient women, who had years of experience with children Matthew’s age and was able to understand his speech well- this was a huge relief for this neurotic mom! Then came 1st grade, and I could not have asked for a better teacher! She was fun, nurturing, and held the attention of all the children in her class. I was fortunate to be able to volunteer in her classroom throughout the year and it was such an eye opening experience! I was so impressed- not only did she dedicate herself to the kids in her class, but to the entire school. Every parent, whose kid’s had her as a teacher, loved her! Not to mention that the kids loved her, as well. Our school district is very lucky to have a teacher of this caliber in their midst.
My son is now in 2nd grade and Kelsie, my daughter, has started kindergarten. Matthew was lucky again and has another phenomenal teacher! She is one of a kind. She goes above and beyond the call of duty in nurturing the kids, every last one of them. She may have 25 children in her classroom, but I feel as though Matthew is her only student when we talk about his progress. I also volunteer with her and it is evident just how much she loves what she is doing.
Kelsie doesn’t have the same teacher that Matthew had, but her teacher has a level of energy that keeps her class moving and holds their attention throughout the day. She is a caring, dedicated, and invested in her class and the school. She motivates the children and teaches them to be independent.
I have been very fortunate to see not just these teachers in action, but many more as well. The level of commitment they have to their students and their school is truly amazing. They go in early to get their class ready for day and they stay late prepping for the next day. You can tell that they really listen when the kids talk to them. They are honest and dedicated professionals who have been working without a contract for quite some time, and yet there they are giving it their all- as any real professional does, without calling people names. I find it to be bothersome that it has been going on for so long. They come in everyday ready to educate, motivate, and enlighten their students and to not be recognized by authority figures really makes me sad.
Everyday they are full of anticipation for what they are going to be teaching their students that day. The kids respond with enthusiasm for the possibilities put before them. As a parent who only wants the best for my children, I believe the teachers deserve fairness and respect. Their level of professionalism has far exceeded that of the school committee. I take offense to a teacher being called “disgusting,” and find it to be very immature on this person’s part.
Matthew and Kelsie want to be a paleontologist and doctor, respectfully, when they grow up, and without these awesome professionals setting the educational foundations they need, they may not reach these goal. Yes, my husband and I will help nurture these choices in any way we can, but we need to keep these teachers in this field to encourage all the children in their classes. I wish for a solution where it is a win- win for all parties involved… so please continue talking and communicating positively.
My best wishes for the teachers and the school committee in this matter. Let’s come together and make this happen, I know you can…Val.