Parents, do not let anyone at your child’s school lower your expectations. If your child has a dream, ignore the naysayers – and support your child as she follows her dream, as this mother did.
In elementary school, Lisa was in special ed because of her severe dyslexia, dyscalculia, and ADD. She also had buck teeth (the kids called her “beaver”), so she was a walking target for bullying. Lisa had very few friends, and extremely low self-esteem. The bullying became so brutal that I switched her to a more caring private school for junior high.
At the transition to public high school IEP meeting, I was shocked by her low achievement test scores. The IEP team asked Lisa to come in and share what she wanted to achieve in high school. Lisa said, “I want to earn a regular high school diploma and be a cheerleader.”
The team members told Lisa that due to her low scores, she would NEVER earn a regular diploma (a modified diploma was the best she could expect), and they shared that no special ed student had ever become a cheerleader.
Lisa hated her special education English class. It took half a year and countless meetings, including one with the head of special ed for the district, to convince them to give Lisa a chance to be in a regular English class. They warned her that she would have to prove she could handle the material to remain in that class.
The next year and a half was a real struggle. Lisa put in extremely long hours of study and work. She even made up the first semester credit of that Freshman English class by going to night school at a local community college (a 2 hour commute) because the high school said it was not a “credit recovery” class.
Something amazing happened at the end of her sophomore year. Lisa was selected to be on cheer, and it changed her life forever.
She learned her cheers, learned to do the stunts, learned that people could like her, and started to believe in herself – all while maintaining a high enough GPA to stay on cheer.
In her junior year, Lisa became her own advocate at her IEP meetings. She insisted she had what it takes to earn a regular diploma. The IEP team did not believe her, but agreed she could try.
Fast forward to this year – her senior year. Lisa is doing extremely well. She has a 3.6 grade point average. She has just passed all 3 of the required graduation tests, so she will get a regular diploma.
Yesterday, we had her final IEP meeting. Not one of the people who had originally told her she could not be on cheer, or get a regular diploma, showed up to congratulate her. I realize they are busy people, but I so much wanted to tell them NOT to give up on students – and to give them a chance to follow their dreams.
Lisa is proof that through hard work and dedication, dreams really can come true.