You were among the first to welcome us when we moved to our new school district.
IST stands for “Itinerant Support Teacher” and that’s exactly what you did– support.
You were there in the afternoons to walk my son home to his mailbox, then his sister with him the following year.
You were there at every school carnival and event, greeting all of my kids by name, although you only ever taught one of them.
You were the one who called to check in regularly.
You were the one who constantly checked on the paperwork and kept track of the deadlines so that if those papers ever got misplaced, either by me at home or in the bowels of a district office, you could send them again and again and again.
You were the one who called the house once a month or so to see how he was doing and kept checking on that paperwork, even when you weren’t my son’s teacher anymore.
When we lost his IEP last year I knew you were just as disappointed as I was, although you were too professional to show it. Instead, you made more phone calls and made sure I knew my rights and volunteered to be the school representative at every off-site testing until we got it back.
You were the one who sent your own child to a babysitter on your extended holiday weekend and drove across town to sit with me through more testing and more meetings, the only representative from our school who came.
When it was becoming obvious that your own school just didn’t have the resources to meet all of my son’s needs, which are more severe than anyone initially realized, and it was looking like the only option the district was willing to give us was to bus my 8-year-old to a building 45 minutes away from home, you were the one who spoke up in your friendly yet assertive way and helped everyone decide on an alternative placement only 3 miles from our house.
You were the one who came and quietly sat in the corner of the room during his last IEP meeting a few weeks ago, just to make sure everything was going smoothly, although you didn’t have to be there.
We have been to visit Nick’s new school, and you were right. He already knows many of the teachers there and some of the kids. We’ve met his teacher and some of the students who will be in his class next year. The positive environment is contagious and the resources they have are far greater than anything we could give him at his current school or anything I could give him at home. For the first time since becoming his mother, I feel confident that this is the right educational placement for my son.
But that means that we are leaving you behind, Ms. H., and that is bittersweet. This is what we have been working towards for years, but it is still hard to say goodbye to the first person who has ever fought just as hard for my son as I have, through the bureaucracy and the red tape and the behaviors seen the little boy who needed a warrior to fight for him, and then did so willingly and with a smile.
There aren’t enough Thank You cards and Olive Garden gift certificates in the world to really express our appreciation. My son’s life is about to start on a whole new trajectory, one that you put him on.
So, here’s to you, Ms. H. and all of the teachers like you.