Monday, November 14, 2011

The Other Side of the Table

In schools, and special education classrooms, and filing cabinets all over Wake County sit green folders.  Thousands of them are locked away for safe-keeping, marked with names of students, and filled with IEPs documenting needs and growth and goals.  Teachers, principals, and parents join together to create these individualized files, pouring uncanny amounts of time and information into them.

Of the nineteen-thousand green folders belonging to Wake County Public Schools (WCPSS), my signature can be found in a handful of them.  From the students I've taught, to the meetings I've sat in on, I've spent my fair share of time devoted to these sacred green beings. I've cried over a few of them, stressed over most of them, and celebrated the strengths in all of them.  While a few will always stand out as the "special ones", none will hold a candle to the newest green folder in Wake County's collection.


As he currently receives therapies through our local Children's Developmental Services Agency (CDSA), and those services will end when he turns three (in just four months!), WCPSS is stepping in.  He has already been referred to the school system, and evaluations will begin at the end of this month to see if he will be eligible for services through them.

It's an odd thing, being on the other side of the table - to step out of the role of "case manager" and into the role of "parent" - but it's happening.  Although I gave up my days of managing green folders when I left my special education job a year and a half ago, it seems as though those emerald beauties aren't quite finished with me yet.

I've been spending nap-times and night-times filling out personal information, explaining medical conditions, and answering awkwardly asked questions.  While I did my best to sympathize with my students' parents during my teaching days, only now can I really empathize with them.  Only now can I wonder what my answer will say to a group of strangers about my child - can I feel anxiety about them not seeing what I see (or vice versa).  While I may understand the system more than my students' parents, our hearts are the same.  Whether I'm a former special education teacher, or an immigrant hoping to gain U.S. citizenship, I want exactly what they wanted.

Only the best for my child. 

It's going to be an interesting process, for sure - learning to switch hats - and I'm sure I'll need a few deep breaths along the way.  But, it's also an exciting time.  I enjoyed reading my students' evaluations because it was an official celebration of their growth, and a map for where to go next.  I am a "results" person, no doubt, and this evaluation will give Jeramie and myself the facts we need to continue to do all we can for our son.

Only time (and a few evaluations) will tell if Ethan's green folder will follow him for the years to come, or if it will find its way to the inactive pile.  Pray for us (um, me) over the weeks and months to come - that I'll suppress the need to control the situation, that I won't get hung up on numbers and percentiles, and especially for my emotional state if it's determined that Ethan will start preschool in March.

Lord knows there will be some ugly cries happening that day.


Jen said...

I'm right there with ya sista! :) Only Andrew's on year 2 of his IEP and we have seen tremendous growth! It's amazing. And it certainly is different than being the teacher in an IEP meeting, but like you said. Our hearts are the same. I love it. I'm sure Ethan will do great! :)

Becca said...

Love this post my friend - thinking about doing things as a mom changes it a lot doesnt it!? Anyways, praying for your sweet family!

Carolina Carters said...

Is it weird that this made me want to cry? Praying for you, friend. I remember the days as "teacher" in the IEP meetings. I can't imagine the other side of the table as "Mama." I'm sure the emotions will be high, but I know you'll fight for and make the very best decisions for Ethan.

And it kind of blows my mind that it's possible for Ethan (and Derrick) to even be old enough for preschool!

Big hugs!!

Anonymous said...

Ethan is an amazing little boy who has a very exciting life ahead of him. He has been very blessed with a mom and dad who makes sure he is very well taken care of in all aspects.

Ethan will do great..... and so will his mom. :) Not to say it doesn't come without emotions. The love of your child is from my experience, the deepest, most unconditional love you will ever know.

I always keep you guys in my prayers. You guys always seem to amaze me.

Love Grandma A.

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