Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Almost Done---Bittersweet Days

My co-workers and I have been obsessive about announcing how many days are left in ESY (Extended School Year). " There are four days left!"--I anticipate that announcement tomorrow at 8:00 am and then I'll repeat it to the next person I see.

In most ways, I'm really looking forward to vacation.  My husband and I will be traveling north to Erie and then to New Hampshire.  (Heat wave vanquished!)   I'm looking forward to a new year at Ephesus starting August 17th, with a new co-worker SLP, but basically doing the same job I've been doing for a long time.  It's like putting on a comfortable pair of shoes.

I'm looking forward to my old room with all my games and toys the kids love, seeing the familiar office staff, greeting old friends, and meeting new children (there are always new children).  I like the cooler temperatures, and even like bus duty on the kiss 'n go driveway where I talk to parents and new 5th graders on safety patrol. 

That being said, ESY has been amazing!   The kids in particular have proven themselves so resilient, yet loving; willing to learn better ways to express themselves, and just darn cute!  I've also been blessed to have a UNC graduate intern, Alisha, working along side of me, taking over much of what I do.  Young and eager to learn everything she can, pragmatic, efficient, and hard-working---also organized!  The list could go on.

Memories are still swirling around a bit, but a few of our best moments with the 26 kids we worked with were-
  • Trying out the iPad everywhere!  Everything from Pictello to Proloquo2Go to Talking Tom; individual children or groups of kids.  It really worked and kids and adults loved it!
  • Starting a Picture Exchange Communication system for a child who was hitting adults and kids out of frustration.  It seemed to be a good start and something that we can tell his teacher next year. This child said "High 5" to me today, and then we gave each other a High 5!  This was the first time he initiated with me all summer. 
  • Teaching a beautiful child to point--I described this in my earlier post.  

  • Watching a girl learn to communicate in 4 word sentences using augmentative communication, and be excited about it---especially when picking out different colored and decorated fingernails for the Funky Fingernail game. She dresses in pink daily, by the way---very much a little girl.

  • Making crabs, sand art fish, rainbow fish, and jellyfish---one each week for our speech/occupational therapy groups. One teacher continued the theme and the classroom is decorated with an ocean of various sea creatures.
  • Working with a child going into kindergarten on early literacy skills---and seeing him make connections between text and speech
adapted book page

  • Making new and exciting adapted books.  Adapted books are those that are created with simple text and photos on powerpoint, printed, laminated, and embellished with manipulative icons.  My latest is "What Can Cats Do".  It's a nice bridge to literacy, and the kids have responded eagerly! 
I'm sure I'll think of other highlights.  Maybe there will be a part II to this little blog entry.  The kids I work with are often quite difficult and have lifelong disabilities.  I do feel for the parents who struggle every hour with challenges and grief; but this summer, I've felt lucky to have been with them.  Most will go on to other schools for the year, and I hope that all of their teachers will feel as lucky as I feel at this moment.

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