Support For Christi Thomas

This blog is to help offer support to the Thomas Family and their daughter, Christi, in her battle against cancer. Please visit Christi's website at to learn more. There, you'll find journals, photos and a lots of other information about this amazing child and her family.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Visit to Shayla's New School

Shayla's 4th grade School Picture (2009)

On Monday, our school was on “spring break”; however, Shayla’s new school district was back in session after a week off. Therefore, I made a 10:30 appointment with the school’s principal to receive the grand tour. I thought that would be a good way to help transition Shayla and to make her more comfortable and less fearful about switching schools. About a week ago when I told Shayla that the only time we could go to tour her new school was on Easter Monday she kept right on working on her crocheting only replying, “You can go mom. I’m not going to.” I told her that was not an option. Soon after, I asked one of my new seventh graders talk with Shayla about how helpful it was for her when she toured our school last year before starting this year. I think that helped. I also shared with Shayla the nicest, most welcoming email I received back from the new school’s principal after I emailed her telling her I took a new job and that Shayla needed to return to her home district school, that I actually cried after reading it because I knew Shayla was going to be fine.

I can say, after spending two hours there, it was even better than I had anticipated and I have always heard fabulous things about this elementary school. Thankfully, Shayla saw about 8 girls she knew from dance (one will be in her class) and a very sweet gal from a wonderful family she met at the CT Easter Egg Hunt at Tiffin University. Shayla worked with the band teacher to select her instrument (the flute), had time to chat with both the fourth and the fifth grade teachers, checked out the restrooms (I thought it was important that she go in the rooms to see that the stalls have doors, etc. because I know how little minds can conjure up all sorts of scary things), and we had complimentary lunches in the cafeteria where Shay ate with the fourth grade girls (all 8 of them, 20 boys), and I ate with the principal.

Every staff member raved about how wonderful the 4th grade class is and I was surprised how many teachers I knew, or who knew us. I was also surprised how very, very close the school is to our home. I made the round trip drive in many fewer miles than I do driving just one way to our current school. Since I will only need to be on campus two days a week for the fall semester (They don’t want to overwhelm new faculty I was told.), it will be nice to be close-by if I’m ever needed, or if Shayla wants me to volunteer or something.

Shayla came home from our visit and sent this email to a friend; she copied it to Shayne’s email account. It said:

Guess what! I toured my new school. I bet you want to know how it went. Well, everyone was nice, but they looked at me like: Who in the world is she? Lunch was CRAZY! There was a cold pack with a bun and some ketchup. And there was a hot pack with a sandwich (minus the bun) and 5 fries! Weird, hun? The people I sat next to were nice. One girl I met earlier at my sister's egg hunt. I liked how she waved at me in the hallways and was real nice to me. The band teacher had me try out for an instrument! I wanted to play the flute, but clarinet was my second choice. I couldn't get a sound out of the flue. He said I have a dip lip but we could work around it. The clarinet was easy, but it didn't feel right....he told me to get the one I could picture myself playing. I had wanted to play the flute since 1st grade so I got the flute. Well, hope to see you soon!

Later Monday evening Miss Shayla said to me, “How can it be such a great school if it’s so small?” I asked her where she ever got the idea that small schools weren’t good schools. I also shared with her the printed reports from the state department of education comparing our current elementary to her new one (a lot of it based on test scores). I told her my feelings about test scores and that I thought they weren’t important and that they didn’t mean a thing, but that others use them to try to compare schools, even though that is ridiculous. I told her I thought that was totally wrong, but when I shared the very top statistic in huge print on top of both reports which showed her new school at 100% and her current school and 67% she got a huge smile on her face and said, “Really? Tell me what that means.” I went through the two 8 page documents with her, comparing the two schools and continually reiterating that I thought all of this testing stuff was bologna and that I like the title “No Child Left Behind” because it sounds good in theory; however, I think it really stands for “No Child Left Alive” by placing so much emphasis on standardized testing and pressure on children.

Last night after our nightly routine where I read to Shayla and then Shayne reads to her. I fell asleep. Shayne soon woke me up and said, “Isn’t it great Shayla is excited about starting at her new school?” I said, “Where did you get that idea? I don’t think that’s the case.” He said, “She told me that just a little bit ago.” I was so thankful he came to tell me that and woke me up. It’s been a long time since I slept so well! Now I’m not certain if she’ll start there in a couple of weeks and finish the year out, or if she’ll wait until August, but I do feel much better about it all. She is very intrigued that the 4th grade field trip will be taken to the Amish Country at the end of May and that the 5th grades are treated like "The Seniors" because they are the "top dogs" at the school before all getting together at the one (very large compared to what we are used to) middle school for grades 6-8.


At 15/4/09 4:17 PM, Anonymous Micaela said...

I'm so glad Shayla turned out to like her new school! I'm sure that she'll have a ball there.

I love that Shayla decided to start playing flute in band! If I remember correctly, didn't Christi also want to? I have been playing clarinet since I was Shayla's age - it's such a good experience and I'm sure she'll love it. (If you're wondering about what a "dip lip" is, basically her lips are shaped like a sideways 8 instead of an 0. It's fairly common, she'll just need to learn to hold it sort of sideways to her lip)


At 16/4/09 4:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so pleased to hear that you managed to organise this to help Shayla transition to her new school. I'm sure it helped set your mind at rest too. You can tell Shayla that playing the flute is great - and not to worry, it takes everyone a bit of time to get a sound out of it - the trick is not to think about blowing "into" it, but blowing across the hole. Like Shayla I also dreamed for ages about playing it - my first wind instrument was the recorder, but I took up flute when I was 13 and took lessons up until I was 20 - I still play every so often, it's true that the best inspiration to practise is to choose an instrument that you can imagine playing to begin with! Also, it's a great instrument for playing along with other people with.

She really is growing up! I love the idea of her being a "senior" - that will make her feel special from the start! You must find it odd to think of her getting older - even things like being sensitive to showing her the bathrooms so she won't get freaked out about others/starting periods etc (I know she's young - but it can happen!). I'm sure this is the start of a wonderful few years for Shayla where she will blossom.

The very best to you all, I was thinking about you over Easter - said a prayer for Christi. My own family visited - can I ask for some prayers for my little nephew (only 9 months old) who has been in hospital for the past two months - he has had a series of nasty infections - and to top it all the doctors have discovered that he is not producing enough white blood cells on his own behalf, so he is on a course of GCSF injections for an indeterminate period. Bone marrows coming back clear etc so the doctors are not suspecting cancer anymore - but it's been a worrying few months and it would be great to get to the bottom of it. Prayers needed!


At 16/4/09 4:59 PM, Anonymous Cair said...

Tell Shayla that the flute is an excellent choice. Also, tell her that my daughter plays flute and when she started flute at school she couldn't make a sound. It took about 3 or 4 weeks of daily practice and all of a sudden she got a sound. By half-way through the year she was way ahead of all of the rest of the kids. She's now a freshman in HS and sounds amazing. Practice and perserverence did it for her and I'm sure will do it for Shayla.

At 16/4/09 5:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe I missed this but what is the name of Shayla's new school? I am not from your area and can not figure out what school she will now be attending. Thanks and God Bless!

At 16/4/09 7:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yay for Shayla! This must be a difficult time for her, but it sounds like you guys have done a wonderful job helping her through this transition. She is one special gal. BTW...I attended a very small school in Ohio and loved it. I always felt like the big fish in the small pond. My confidence soared (probably a little too much). To this day, I appreciate the experiences I was afforded in my growing up years.

At 16/4/09 8:12 PM, Blogger Kimberly said...

Shayla- Just consider your new school a "mazinger" and you'll do great! What? You never heard of a mazinger?

When you add your amazing talent for academics/arts and making new friends to an amazing school-well, the school can only be AMAZINGER!

Oh-and Angela....I absolutely could not have surmised my opinion of the NCLB Act better! You read my mind!!! My teaching vocabulary of late consists of not much more than "OAT" and OGT". It was bad enough teaching in Florida when I barely said more than "FCAT." AAUUGGH!!!!!

Hugs always-Kim, Todd and Girls


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