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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

My Silver Scholar

Today Mason was recognized as a Silver Scholar for maintaining a 3.00-3.74 GPA this school year.  He was also given the President's Education Award.
I can not even find the words to accurately articulate what the award of Silver Scholar means to me!  He did this ALL. BY. HIMSELF.  He did this without the additional support of private therapy.  He did this in spite of the hoopla and commotion and chaos that currently defines public education, particularly in our state.  He did this in spite of 12 days of standardized testing.  He did this when other people said he would not and suggested we attend a school with less rigorous academics.  HE. DID. THIS.

If you were to ask me my favorite elementary grade, I would, hands down, say 4th grade. I loved everything about it but especially my teachers.  I loved my classmates that year.  But I heard horror stories about this 4th grade, and I was very apprehensive at the beginning of this school year.  There were sweeping changes in academic standards and standardized testing.  No one was sure how any of the students would do this year but particularly those with learning differences.  So many people had told me, "If he gets through 4th grade, you won't have anything to worry about, and he'll be just fine."  I still haven't figured out exactly what that means.  The only thing I can say for certain is that today was the last day of 4th grade.  And Mason did a whole lot more than just "get through it."

The beginning of the year started off rough.  Before school even started, I had to have several conversations with administration and request a teaching change for Mason.  Yet again, his annual 504 review was an argument.  The homework was excruciatingly difficult.  By the end of September, I told my friend that we would just never make it through the school year.  It was impossible.  I still remember the discussion we had about "other options."  And now we are looking at 5th grade!

Man, I am prouder of this kid than proud can ever possibly be!  I have seen such tremendous growth and improvement in his reading skills this year.  I had the opportunity to have a brief conversation today with the reading specialist at school.  He has worked with Mason for two years now.  Mason absolutely loves Mr. Alex.  I thanked him for what he has done for us, and I told him that I really thought Mason has come a long way this year.  He agreed and said he saw tremendous progress this year, too.  That was so encouraging to hear.

Mason's 3rd grade teacher is the one who essentially got me through the darkest days at the beginning of this school year.  I talked to her today, also.  She told me that Mason is one of the brightest students she's ever taught.  Of course, I've always known that.  But she is one of the special ones who didn't allow Mason's learning difference to define him or his ability.  She knew what he was and is capable of.

Mason had utmost respect for his teachers, Mrs. Olivier and Ms. Yarbrough, this year.  I really don't know what Ms. Yarbrough did or how she did it.  When he was coming home at the beginning of the year with his reading homework and assignments, I really thought it would essentially be impossible for him to keep up or be successful this year.  But I was wrong.  Dead wrong.  He consistently made As and Bs on all of his reading tests this year and had the highest reading grade he has ever had in the entire course of his education since kindergarten!  Whatever Ms. Yarbrough did really connected with him.
Mrs. Olivier and Ms. Yarbrough taught me a lot this year, too.  They taught me how to let go.  They taught me how to let Mason do it, how to trust Mason to do it.  They taught me how to give Mason the space and independence he needed to master this thing on his own.  I didn't take very kindly to this at first.  But I do have utmost respect and gratitude for these two educators.  I have no doubt they are two of the best.  

I just can't believe it.  Fourth grade is over.  Finished.  DONE.  And we have a Silver Scholar!  Fly, Mason.  You're soaring now!


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