Thursday, May 4, 2017

Teacher Appreciation

On Monday night I had the privilege of honoring Daniel's amazing 3rd grade teacher Mrs. McRae at District 20's Special Education Staff Appreciation Night. The whole evening was very inspiring and heart warming, as parents shared stories of 40 plus staff members (school bus drivers, paraprofessionals, speech therapists, special ed teachers, classroom teachers) and the significant contributions they have made in the lives of their children this year. It was so encouraging to see the life-changing impact one person can make who “gets” a special needs child and creates an environment where that child feels safe and understood.

This is what I shared:

This is such a special event! What a blessing to hear about all of these wonderful teachers and staff who have made such a difference in the lives of our children. I'd like to share with you all what our son Daniel's 3rd grade teacher Mrs. McRae wrote to him on a postcard at the beginning of the school year:

Dear Daniel, I'm so thrilled you are in my class! I love your cheerful spirit, big smile, and perseverance when things get tough. We are going to have a fantastic rest of the year! 
Love, Mrs. McRae

This is the way Mrs. McRae is--so incredibly positive and encouraging! She was able to identify and affirm those traits in Daniel early on and then help him continue to develop them during the year. This has been Daniel's 2nd year in the public school system. Last year he received full-time para assistance, and this year he was able to cut back to half-time as he's become more independent. Mrs. McRae has been committed to fully integrating him into her classroom, and she helps him know what's ok to do and what's not ok.

Another parent shared how her daughter really misses her teacher when she's away from school. Daniel is the exact same way. Whenever we go on a trip, I know it won't be long before I hear from the back seat how many days its going to be until he sees Mrs. McRae again, and how much he misses her already.

Daniel and Mrs. McRae at a cross country meet

One of the most amazing things for me was meeting Mrs. McRae for the first time at Pioneer's Back to School Night. I thought we were going to be meeting his new teacher for the first time, but it actually felt like I was meeting an old friend when I discovered that she already knew Daniel and was excited about him being in her class! Soon after that, I came across a picture (below) of Daniel running cross country the year before and there was Mrs. McRae, cheering him on in the finish chute. We didn't know her then, but there she was. And it's a beautiful picture to me of how God was preparing the way for Daniel and we didn't even know it. 

Daniel's 2nd grade teacher in the center and Mrs. McRae to her left

Daniel and his brother David, in 5th grade, had surgeries in early February. After that, they had to use wheelchairs and walkers for two months. Mrs. McRae was very supportive of our whole family during that time. The day before surgery she sent Daniel home with an overflowing basket of goodies so that both boys would have things to do while they were recovering. She gave our family a gift certificate for Papa Murphy's pizza. And all of Daniel's classmates made very sweet get well cards for him.

Mrs. McRae is an exceptional teacher who has shown us so much love and support this year, and we feel sad that the school year is coming to an end. We are truly going to miss her!

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