Honoring My Girl


On Thursday night, I had planned to speak to the Board of Education during the Citizen Comments section at the end of the meeting. However, due to inclement weather, the meeting was adjourned before I was offered the opportunity to speak. I had intended to offer the board my thanks for honoring my daughter during the Celebrations section of the meeting earlier that evening. My girl has won First Place in the Primary Division for Film Production in the State’s PTA Reflections competition this year. Her video, which you can see below, is on diversity. Specifically, she is talking about the diversity that we have in our family as a result of her brother’s autism.

And just in case you were wondering, yes, we’re extremely proud of both our kids. As I hope every parent feels, my kids bring joy to my life in ways that constantly surprise and amaze me. My daughter’s unconditional love for her brother, even when his illness disrupts her life, never ceases to inspire us.

I think this comes through clearly in her video, and I believe that’s why it’s winning. The video has been sent on to the national competition as well.

The comments that I had planned to make Thursday night were to thank the board for their support of our PTAs and for honoring my little girl. They were also intended to encourage them to learn from her about how to care for people.

Here’s what I had planned to say:

Thank you for honoring my daughter tonight. My little girl loves her little brother more than nearly anyone else on this planet. Your recognition of her video about him is appreciated both by her and by all brothers and sisters of special need children.

This is a testament to the teachers, administrators, and parents of Mt. Gap Elementary School.

It is a testament to all siblings of special needs kids.

Thank you for finally coming to Mt. Gap this past Tuesday to discuss why you believe it necessary to close the school that has given so much to my daughter and merge it with Mt. Gap Middle. As her video shows, not all indicators of efficiency can be evaluated by a standardized test.

Thank you for acknowledging that my son’s classroom has been understaffed and unsafe this year by adding an aide to the room. I have received reports from across the district of special education students who have been put at risk as a result of their teachers having too little support in the classroom. Although you like to believe and tell others that this is a teacher problem, it isn’t; it’s a systematic failure on the part of this superintendent and this board to understand what it means to work with special education students. Without knowing the children, you cannot adequately evaluate their needs. This is why you must trust your teachers and principals. Frankly, you seem incapable of doing that. Your insistence on ruling from the top down has made our children unsafe.

So, I thank you for honoring my daughter’s work; however, if you truly want to honor her, here are a few suggestions:

First, make sure that our all of our classrooms are adequately staffed and safe.

Second, please restore funding to special education. Do not balance your budget on the back of my daughter’s little brother.

Third, and this one comes directly from my daughter’s heart, leave Mt. Gap Elementary School alone. Inefficiencies, sir, can be addressed without mergers and without closings, and you should know this.

Beginning when she was 16 months old, we noticed that my girl was “scary smart.” She also loves others more than any one I have ever known. You could learn a lot from her.

I wish I had had the opportunity to say this. I hope that the Board will listen to our students and repeal their decisions to pointlessly merge/close Mt. Gap Elementary and to defund special education.

Maybe if she wins at National, we can say this to them together.

"Children see magic because they look for it." --Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel according to Biff, Jesus' childhood pal.


  1. Russ,

    Your daughter is obviously wise beyond her years. How wonderful that she is able to share her inspirational message with all of us. 🙂

  2. Congratulations to Emma. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.:)

    As for the meeting being adjourned due to inclement weather by the school board VICE PRESIDENT, not to be confused with the school board PRESIDENT, after a second by the “the real Dr. Robinson”, not to be confused with his school board MEMBER spouse, and since people couldn’t leave the building until the inclement weather passed, I’m not so sure “inclement weather” was the reason for the early adjournment.

    The time to submit a weather advisory is before the storm hits, not during the storm. Also there were no weather sirens.

    Since we didn’t have citizens comments due to Blair and Robinson adjourning the meeting during citizens comments, we should get three minutes for that meeting and 3 minutes for the next meeting. 🙂

    1. Well put, Redeye. Well except for the apple part. The girl stands on her own. On my best day I couldn’t hope to come close to her. But I thank you for the compliment. 🙂

      I’m with you with the extra 3 minutes!

      1. Those who were signed up to speak at the last meeting and didn’t have the opportunity should be given 6 minutes at the next meeting.

        1. PS, and citizens comments should be FIRST on the agenda and not LAST since board members are not obligated to address concerns at a public meeting.

          1. PPS During school board WORK SESSIONS citizens are allowed to ask questions and make comments. All you have to do is go to the microphone. There is no time limit.

            I’m still checking on the legality of the board VICE PRESIDENT adjourning the meeting because it was storming outside.

            1. Excellent point. Yes. Citizens can speak to any agenda item during the work session.

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