Adam came by. Oh- Adam. Had he enrolled in a suburban district with a fancy Child Development department Adam would have been labeled Asperger's Syndrome and been given a paraprofessional to shadow him. But Adam's (highly educated, highly intelligent) mom was new to our country and our system when Adam reached school age so Adam got to get thrown out of a variety of public and private schools before he reached us in sixth grade.
By then Adam had a relationship with a neurologist (his mother is a great advocate and also highly capable of getting him what he needs, once she figured out the system) Even so his early years with us were tough on everyone. They involved a lot of parent teacher-conferences, some broken desks, and lots and lots of tears.. (Actually Adam was one participant in the first fight I broke up at our school).
Okay- but Adam is our success story. Our poster child for inclusion. He doesn't fight. He has friends, desks remain intact and his mother stopped crying. I checked up on him in our 80 million dollar database system the City figured would solve all our problems. (In my case – it feeds what my husband calls my cyber-yentering habit) Adam's passed everything, has a solid B average and
a passing grade on every NYS Regent.
So enough back story. Adam came in at the end of the school day and sat down.
Me: Need something Adam? Or you just here to visit.
Adam: Just visiting
Me: Glad you stopped by, how's the new school year going?
Adam: Not so go good.
Couldn't be to terrible or I would have heard
Me: What's going on?
Adam: I think the new principal is very disorganized, new schedules, new program cards, new bell times everyday.
Me: Yeah, it's tough on everyone
Adam: Yeah but for someone like me,who needs structure, its unethical.
Yeah and for me its an opportunity to end my long gratifying career with my big Union mouth leading me into lots of trouble.
But I didn't tell Adam that. I just assured him we were all there to help him get through the chaotic start. And since I promised myself this is not a venue for complaints, I'll end with a story about Thomas
The song “I don't want to work I just want to bang on the drums all day” was written for Thomas. Thomas drums something, anything – all day long. Thomas also came to us in sixth grade (though several cohorts after Adam). And he has been banging ever since.
Very annoying -if you are trying to teach him something.
But Friday morning I wasn't trying to teach anything, just sitting at my computer while Thomas waited for the new support teacher- drumming loudly..
Thomas: loud rhythmic drumming
Me: softly at first, “iko, iko ay yah-
drumming continues, new kid joins in
Me: increasingly louder-”Jockamo fina fin nay ah, jockamo fina na ay.
More students enter and join the drum core and I'm up and dancing. Now if you have a vision of some hip, svelt MTV dancer up in front of the class singing and dancing, revise it- think chubby middle-aged, atonal, off-beat, white Aretha Franklyn
My grandma and your grandma sitting by the fire
My grandma to your grandma I'll set your flag on fire
Loud unison drumming continues now by a number of students
Ay now, ay now, iko iko ay yay
And then the new no-nonsense - “I used to teach at the correctional facility” teacher comes in
New teacher walks- properly to front of room, turns slowly towards group and says:
“Jockamo finay fin ay ay, jockamo fin ay -Open your books please.
I leave - everything under control.