Sunday, August 14, 2011

Dear John (Preschool Edition)

A couple of weeks ago, I got an email. It was a “Dear John” letter of sorts, only it wasn’t that kind of a break-up letter. It was from my son’s preschool teacher. She wanted to let me know that she wouldn’t be returning to my son’s school this year. I was thankful for the personal note, but devastated at the content.

I’ve written about Moe’s teacher before. She is everything you’d want an autism preschool teacher to be: kind, supportive, smart, patient, and above all, experienced. My heart still sinks when I think about that letter. In it, she described how her husband found a job in another city, how they’ve always wanted to live near the beach. “It’s not you, it’s me,” I thought. I’ve heard that one before.

To be polite, I asked what she would be doing, thinking there’s no way she could have found another job so quickly. But of course she did. Mrs. M described the new autism preschool class she would have. My heart filled with jealousy. “If we can’t have her, no one can!” I pictured all those little kids, laughing and singing with our Mrs. M. They won’t appreciate her like I do. Those kids won’t be as cute as my Moe. She’s going to realize she made a huge mistake.

In all seriousness, I don’t have to tell you how important a good special education teacher is. And I know we got lucky. When we moved into our house, we weren’t even married yet, let alone worried about schools. We had no idea we would need school district services so quickly, and were fortunate that our district had good ones. We even put off moving to another house this year because we didn’t want to give up our place in this program.

There is a good chance that Moe’s next teacher will be just as excellent as his last one was. After all, it takes a certain type of person to teach autistic preschoolers, especially those like my little trouble-maker. My mom reminds me that in school, kids usually get a new teacher every year anyway. And I realize that my apprehension has as much to do with my resistance to change as it does with the idea of a new teacher. But when you’ve got a good thing going, you don’t want it to end.

It’s been a long, tough summer. So, we enter the new school year – just a week away! – with excitement and a little bit of apprehension. I hope it is a successful one for Moe, and for all of us Hopeful Parents.

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