Tuesday: First day of Julia’s Junior year at Newton North High School. Today has been a bit more than a year in the making. The first queries I wrote to Boston area high schools, when I was still just toying with the idea of moving, were dated mid-August 2018. So, today feels like crossing a finish line and at the same time, it is the beginning of another big adventure.
I drove Julia to school this morning and her case manager met her at the door. Julia went in at 11, an hour before upper class students were due to arrive and two hours after the freshman class started. The Sped administrator, who has been our life line since we arrived, suggested the time and it gave Julia a chance to have lunch and settle in before the school filled up.
For me, the day was quick, empty, filled with anxiety and worry and yes, a few hints of hope. Maybe this year, maybe this place, maybe these courses, these teachers, these students will inspire Julia. Maybe she will reach further. I am willing to admit that the last two years have been a terrific struggle to hold her in place and we probably should have moved or travelled before high school began. There have been bright spots—cheer, choir with Mr. Cao, speech therapy and OT at Communication Innovation and a small bevy of girls who befriended Julia—but the challenges of an under funded high school Sped program with an over worked staff took a toll on the both of us. Yes, constant and insistent advocacy and a great case manager got Julia what she needed but Julia has been that square peg in a system full of round holes. The system was not going to change, not going to become what she has needed. And as friends post pictures and messages on Face book about their children’s successes and next stages, my fears for a happy, productive future for my girl have grown. I’m putting down those fears for the moment. I don’t expect miracles. Julia will not be registering for the PSAT, there are no college visits on our horizon or friends gathering in our living room for pizza and a movie, but perhaps there are a few square-ish holes that my daughter can slide into without so much friction.
Julia came home tired and yet willing to write for her first English assignment. It took us a while to figure out how to share her google doc with her teachers, but with a telephone hint, she did it. Julia has used chrome books in school for years, so she understands the interfaces better than I do. Having her own chrome book, perhaps I’ll learn a bit more about it. When I picked her up, the word was that she had a good. day, tested the boundaries some with each new adult encountered and responded well to correction. Tomorrow, she is planning to go to the after school theater meeting. She wants to work back stage. Newton North has a theater program to rival most liberal arts colleges and I hope Julia can find a place there.
Me thinks she sleeps well tonight.
Tomorrow’s bell is at 7:50 a.m.