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Overcoming Obstacles

An Open Letter to Our Son’s Educators of 2020

It’s so hard to fathom that another school year has ended. For Anthony, the 2019-2020 school year began with a fresh start in a new school. It started as a year of growth and accomplishments. He adjusted well to the changes and showed up with excitement rather than fear. He embraced each school day with a smile on his face, a readiness to learn, and a level of confidence I’ve admired in him from the time he was two.

Then the world was turned upside down. Everything changed. Like all the other children in this country, he was faced with unexpected challenges. Learning was different. Our home was different. Life was different. It was awkward at first, but he got into the groove of learning from a distance.

His struggles were those you would expect from all kids these days. He missed his teachers. He craved physical interaction with his friends. He was frustrated with his “homeschool” teachers. But he stuck it out. He got up, got dressed, and showed up on time for his teachers and therapists, even when he didn’t want to. He tried his best. In many ways, he continued to grow despite everything that stacked up against him.

It wasn’t the school year we expected, but it also exceeded our expectations. While the instruction now came from a distance, his teachers and therapists were never very far. They remained steadfast in their support of our son. They were ALWAYS a phone call, text, email, or even a quick visit away. His teachers reminded Anthony that whenever he needed them, no distance could keep them apart.

Sometimes the smallest lessons have the most profound impact on our daily lives. I credit one such lesson with giving Anthony the ability to roll with the punches this year. I couldn’t think of a better gift to take away from Kindergarten than the “power of the yet.” It’s a lesson that was taught by his brilliant, remarkable, and incredibly kind teacher (there aren’t enough words to describe all the good she encompasses). It’s one that I genuinely believe has gotten Anthony through the last 3 months with an ease I never expected.

Anthony has struggled from the time he was young, mostly with simple tasks that those around him don’t pick up on quickly. He has always been incredibly hard on himself when he can’t do something. His frustration with his inabilities always takes control of his mind and leads him to quickly give up. Funny thing from the king of never giving up! Physically, he’s a fighter. Mentally, he just wants to be like everyone else his age.

As he tried his best throughout the year, often falling short of what he was trying to accomplish, I saw a shift in his mindset. He rarely got down on himself like he used to, a change that sparked my interest. We always encourage him and reassure him that he’s doing great, but I didn’t feel this sudden change had come from home. I had heard him whispering to himself “the power of the yet” several times before I finally asked what he was saying.

“You know, Mom!” I had no clue. Like Mrs. Langley says, “I can’t do it YET! Yet, yet, yet…the power of the yet!” I was speechless. What a resourceful tool his teacher had come up with for her struggling students. We all learned a lesson that day. We have carried the “power of the yet” through our entire household…a tool that has helped us in so many areas of our life these days.

And we made it. To the last day of school! No, this school year wasn’t what we expected. Yes, we’ve been filled with sadness today. I have no idea when this will end. Like all of us, I pray it to be sooner than later. But until it does, I know that there are brilliant lessons to be learned when we look at life through the eyes of our 6-year-old. And when I look at my sweet son, in all his quarantine glory, I can’t help but think that the best is YET to come.

Congratulations on another year in the books, Anthony. You continue to shine your bright light on all of us. Thank you for sharing the small lessons you take away from others in a way that impacts my life so profoundly. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but I do know that you’re exactly where you need to be.

I’ve always said it takes an Army 🙂 Anthony’s Army changes and grows in many ways each year. To the educators and therapists who have made up his 2019-2020 team- Mrs. Langley, Mrs. Lombardi, Mrs. Chandra, Mrs. Betts, Miss Liz, Miss Mollie, Mr. Apicella, Mrs. Rappa, Miss Melissa, Miss Amanda, Miss Vanessa, even Tom the crossing guard- I wish there was a better word than thank you for expressing our appreciation.

You have remained united, devoted, and dedicated, coming together despite the chaos of the world around us to be the team our son needed to crush his goals. You’ve celebrated with him in his successes, encouraged him in his failures, and gave him the support he needed to never doubt himself. Reminding him that there is no can’t without the “power of the yet.”

I won’t try to imagine how difficult this change was for all of you, the emotions, the countless hours of extra work, the new skills you were forced to develop in such a short amount of time, but you crushed it! A whole generation of kids will look back on 2020 someday and wonder how they lived through a time like this. As parents, we promise to remind them it was thanks to educators like you. Congratulations! Enjoy all the rest and relaxation you worked so hard for and undoubtedly deserve.

Sincerely,

An Indebted Mom