Mr Finch

It’s that time of the year again, for those with school-aged kids - the end of the school year.  A time when you’re gearing-up (uh, medicating?) in preparation for summer but also a time when you reflect on the year past. This usually happens when you realize that you only have a day left to get gifts (maybe that’s just me...) and you really think about those that shepherded your children through the last 9 -10 months.  The teachers. 

This year with Josh, the teacher that has left the most lasting impression was not even really his teacher at all. 

In our school district they have a wonderful inclusion policy for the children who require Special Education. Basically, whenever possible they are integrated in to a general education classroom.  Josh has never really been able to integrate very much at all because of how profound his issues are.  Over the last few years at this school, he has always been assigned a general ed class and teacher, but up until this year, it seemed that was really more of a formality.

This year, Josh was assigned to Mr Finch’s general ed 5th grade class.  His aide would take him there every day to say “good morning” before bringing him to the self-contained classroom where he would spend the rest of the day.  This happened in previous years too but this year was different.  Mr Finch took an interest in Josh.  He was not just a “formality” to him.  He spoke to Josh every morning, figured out even with just the few minutes he saw him each day, how to make a connection with him.  And connect he did.  
Josh gets upset if Mr Finch is not there and there is a substitute.  Mr Finch has come to every single meeting we have had about Josh this year. Even though he does not have much to contribute, he is ALWAYS there.  Always makes the time, always tells me what a sweet boy Josh is and how much the other kids like him.  No other general ed teacher has ever done this before.  Josh is always included in their class celebrations.  This year, he came home with not one, but two valentines envelopes - one from his special ed class, the other, filled to bursting from the general ed class.  I was confused at first, I didn’t know who that was from initially.  This had never happened before.  When I realized that it was from Mr Finch’s’s class, I cried.  I know that Josh doesn’t understand all of this.  Valentines is nothing more to him than a day when some candy shows up in red envelopes.  He likes the parties because it makes a nice break in his day and he gets to eat treats.  To me, it’s so much more.  Mr Finch not only made an effort but I believe, he has taught the children in his class such a very valuable lesson in acceptance simply by modeling this behavior.  They don’t look at Josh as “that special ed kid who comes in every morning”.  They see him for who he is and they love him, regardless of his issues.