With a nip in the air, a cup of hot cocoa in hand, and a quiet evening to reflect on the beginning of this school year, I pause to revel in gratitude for a moment at being in this time and place.
One of my favorite pieces of literature is a poem by Robert Frost entitled “The Road Not Taken.” I look at the roads that I have and have not taken that have lead me to this moment, and I’m grateful for the experiences in life that have lead up to this point. I’m also grateful for the opportunity to choose my course for the future and be a small part in planning the course for our students as well.
As Co-Special Ed. Director, I’ve had the opportunity to work with several teachers, administrators, parents, and students to take a deeper inventory of where we stand in serving our students with disabilities and special needs. We found several areas of strength and a few areas of weakness. It has been a learning process for me to look outside my own classroom at the district as a whole to better understand the total picture; like a walk down an unknown path. But like every new road, the traveler learns and grows along the way so that the way back is no longer an option. The only real option is the way forward.
Our way forward is simple. We set goals to strengthen our weaknesses and continue in our ways of success. Our first five goals address the district’s main areas of weakness; they are not listed in any order of importance or chronology: Budget relief, Transition program, Data usage, Speech pathologist, and Peer tutor program. First we need to make sure that our budget is in order for this school year by appropriately using funds from all sources including ARRA, stimulus funds. We also need to build our transition program to help students be better prepared for post-high school life. Our district needs to access and use data to better drive instruction and placement decisions. We need to continue to actively recruit a certified speech pathologist. We also need to build our peer tutoring program so that it can benefit students with disabilities throughout the district.
We believe that by meeting these goals we can better educate our students with disabilities and prepare them for “meaningful work, advanced education, responsible citizenship, and life-long learning.” This path will take teamwork and devotion to our belief that all children can learn. This is the road that will leave us saying, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”