A few weeks ago I posted on Instagram about my chromosomally-gifted girl’s adventures in color guard costuming. The response was so sweet, it reminded me that for all my personal interests of music and fiction and photography, it’s my daughter you all like to read about the most.
It’s been quite a while since I wrote about her. I believe it was two or maybe even three years ago when I promised an IEP update and failed to deliver. But it wasn’t because of busyness or distraction. It was a conscious choice. Things got pretty, um… hot… in our IEP world for a while. I didn’t want to vent online, lest it make things worse.
So what’s her life been like in that time? Well, Julianna did three-fourths of 6th grade at her home school. Her IEP for this year was the very last thing we did before the COVID shutdown. In fact, we moved up the second half of the meeting because we anticipated the closure. (Yes, I did say “second half.” Because our IEP meetings take 4-6 hours.) By the time school started in August, we had spent 11 hours having meetings to plan the 20-21 school year. I’d hazard a guess that since then, we’ve had another 11 hours’ worth of meetings.
The good news is that we are over the moon thrilled with her teacher this year. She’s switched schools and is in the classroom we didn’t want her to be in—but the reality was that to remain in her home school this year, she would have had to do virtual learning, with me as full-time para, and that was simply not feasible. Let’s be frank. I’m a pretty good flute teacher, but I suck as an educator to my kids.
The district really rose to the occasion. They arranged it so she could Zoom into her home school for choir and social studies and science as long as virtual learning was going on. That was done from her assigned–IN-PERSON–classroom.
In other words, this year she’s been in person 4.5 days a week.
And her teacher this year has blown us away, seeing issues and finding solutions no one else has ever flagged. Julianna is absolutely thriving. But when the district reopened for hybrid learning at semester, we had to choose. The two-school model was no longer viable. We kept her in the new school, and as we approach IEP time for 21-22, we are contemplating leaving her there for 8th grade as well. Some moving parts remain, but for us, the rabid inclusion advocates, to be considering leaving her in a “district classroom” (which we would have called “walled-off” or “segregated” or “self-contained” before) is a really, really big deal. And a testament to this team. As difficult as 2020-21 school year has been for my other secondary students, it’s been a 100% win for Julianna.
Her other new adventure is winter guard. She is participating in flag and dance with the two middle schools that feed her “tallest brother”’s high school marching band. Last night was the dress rehearsal and provides today’s visuals.
All she’s missing in this picture is the sparkly face mask. (Which is adult sized, incidentally….ear loops tied in knots to shorten, and I still had to twist them to keep it snug against her face!)