Little Brother’s First Day at Preschool!

THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR PRAYING WITH US!!!  

I am so happy to say that Little Brother is now in school!

It is not all exactly how I expected it to be, but I am so grateful for God’s provision!

We have had a hard road trying to get Little Brother enrolled in school.  Here’s some background:  We moved to an inner city area about six years ago – before we had children.  We moved here for several reasons.

#1  Because we felt it was God’s will for us at the time.

#2  Because our home church is in this same city.

#3  Because we have a heart for the city we live in.

We still believe our moving here was God’s will and have had wonderful things take place in our home since living here.  We love being close to our church, love our home and are grateful for all God has done….We are always so grateful.

However, since having children, it has become a challenge to live here – and it’s a challenge we didn’t foresee or take seriously.  When TD came to live with us, the educational obstacles quickly became evident.  Call me unaware – because I was….I didn’t know that cities outside of our own school district would not even consider allowing our kids to enroll.  The school district we live in was not a school option for TD.  I hope I am not stepping on any toes at all, but it is one thing to love our city and another thing to realize that we weren’t comfortable with her attending our city’s high school.  That left us with charter schools – who already had fully enrolled classrooms.  It was only because our Pastor’s wife advocated for TD at a particular charter school that we were able to get her in a safe, solid school.

When the school enrollment obstacle took place with TD, I began to question our childrens’ educational future every day.  When I say every day I thought about it, I am not exaggerating.  We drive 30 minutes each way to TD’s school (2 hours of driving a day) and I am constantly asking, “What are we going to do?”  I never want to complain because I am so genuinely grateful that she is in a good school that God provided.  It is just a reality we face – there is a lot of driving and not a great school near our home.

All that said – I didn’t realize how easy TD’s situation was compared to Little Brother’s.

As I have mentioned before, Little Brother is considered special needs.  He is cognitively where he needs to be, but has social/emotional delays.  Maybe some day I will post a blog explaining in detail what this means.  It is actually pretty fascinating as I learn more about it…Just not sure if you as a reader would be as interested(?).

His educational needs would not be met at a charter school.  I HAVE to use public school if I want the level of care available for him that he needs.

I made a lot of phone calls pursuing schools in other districts.  I would say that I have called every school district from here (excluding Detroit) to 30 minutes Downriver (where TD attends school).  It all finally came to a point where I had NO choice but to enroll him in Detroit schools – either because of the other schools’ district demands or the fact that I simply could not swing the transportation needs.

Little Brother was placed in a school about 6 weeks ago and when I went to visit it, I sobbed.  I know I can cry easily, but with one look at the school, I called my husband and cried on the phone,  “Hon, I can’t take him to this school.  There are iron grates over every window, every door, the outside of the building is falling apart and there is a huge chain link fence that surrounds the whole school.  It looks like a jail for little children.  I can’t walk our little boy into this school.”  Jeff, who is such a sweetheart said, “Then leave.  We won’t take him there.  We will work something out.  Don’t worry.”  And with that, I turned and walked away.

About a week later (after making more calls to more schools to no avail), I decided to visit again so I could be fair in my estimation.  I walked inside.  The school was very clean and the staff were very friendly, but I just couldn’t find any peace about it.

More phone calls.  More people telling me “NO.”

There are some details I am leaving out as I can see this blog entry is getting long – LOL.

Yesterday, I went to the Welcome Center for Detroit Public Schools.  I went there dressed professionally, with the Tiffany jewelry Jeff gave me for my birthday last year, high heels on – I wasn’t going to let anyone sidesweep me this time!  [How cheesy does that sound to list how I dressed?!  ha ha]  One of the staff members asked if I worked there.  haha!!!

I went in there with my envelopes full of information, people I had called, etc. etc.  I was told that they cannot place him in a school outside of Detroit, but that they could place him in a school within Detroit that would be a better school than my last experience.

I don’t know how to explain it, but I just had peace and went with what they told me and let them enroll him in the school of their suggestion.  They told me I could come back if I had any problems.

Sometimes (or many times) in life I have found that things don’t go the way I imagined them.  My picture of a school for Little Brother was a building with primary colors all around, sparkling halls – a really bright, modern and cheerful place.  However, there is one benefit in life I carry from moving so much as a child – I can adjust very easily and try to find the best in what I am given.

As I walked into his new school, I tried not to judge by the exterior, but I did note that it looked MUCH better than his first placement.  There were only iron grates over the entrance door windows.  Everything else looked like a somewhat regular school.  I tried to overlook the turquoise walls inside and the outdated wood and gray laminate surfaces.  It was not my vision of where I would send him to school – BUT the outward appearance of THINGS is not what really matters.  It would be his class and teacher that would define for me my comfort level.

And, WOW, I was sooooooo overjoyed when I met his teacher.  Just look at her – doesn’t kindness just exude from her smile?!

She introduced me to the whole class and told me she was so excited to work with him.  Most of the children in the class are experiencing cognitive delays.  She explained how excited she would be to work with Little Brother one on one as he is where he needs to be cognitively.  “Anytime you want to come check on him, you can feel free to do that, Mrs. O’Farrell.  My door is always open except when the kids are napping.  I welcome parents to be as involved as they wish.”

The minute I met her, I just knew he would be ok.  I felt comfortable.  I was able to stop being an advocate for a minute and simply be his Mom taking him to school for the first time.  And then I had another reason to cry – ha ha.

Here are some pictures and a video from the day.  Just click on the link and you will see a gallery you can peruse through.

Thank you all so much for praying!!!

http://gallery.me.com/danaofarrell#gallery

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2 Responses to Little Brother’s First Day at Preschool!

  1. ritacline says:

    Adorable! He looked so excited!

  2. Monica says:

    This is so great to hear Dana, I’m so glad! Praise God.

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