A Year Round Christmas Story

Each and every day newspapers and news broadcasts run articles and stories about the results of high school sporting events and which teams won and who were the stars. This is well and good. Athletics provide a wonderful avenue for growth and expression for many students. But there are other things going on in our public schools that perhaps could use more attention.

A few days before Christmas my wife and I attended our granddaughter’s D.C. Everest Junior High Christmas concert. Of course, we have been attending her concerts since she was a first grader and as always, these musical events are delightful. They are a tribute to both the students and their dedicated teachers.

But these concerts have a special meaning for us. Our granddaughter has Asperger’s Syndrome – a mild form of autism. She is a bright, cheerful, intelligent girl, but struggles with social interaction. I could not begin to say enough about the wonderful Special Ed teachers who have done so much to nurture and support our granddaughter, and I could not exaggerate how important being part of a choral group has been in her development. Our granddaughter absolutely radiates joy during her concerts.

Yet the story goes on. Since she was in grade school, at the end of every concert our granddaughter has received a bouquet of flowers from one of her teachers. To add to this, in the past two concerts her music teacher has chosen her to be one of the students who read the introduction to the next song the group is about to sing. This may seem like a simple thing, but to our granddaughter it is a milestone. We will be forever grateful to these teachers who have quietly, seeking neither praise nor recognition for themselves, given her such trust and support.

Perhaps in the end this is two stories. It is about a young girl overcoming struggles and coming of age, but it is also about what a treasure we have in our public schools and their dedicated, caring teachers and staff. They are the heart and soul, the future, of our communities. They are a wonderful success story of which we as a society can be rightfully proud.