Tuesday, July 30, 2013

HER School Now

Guest Post by Parent Jennifer Arnold
Nearly three years ago, I stood in the Madonna School parking lot trying to coax my daughter out of the car. It was her first visit to Madonna. While she had agreed to visit the school earlier that morning, she suddenly was overcome with anxiety and fear. She was (still is) a very determined young lady with rigidity ruling her world. And this was not her school, she said.
Finally, after several minutes of negotiation, she walked with me to the front door where we were greeted by the welcoming smile of former Madonna Principal Dr. Bill. Elise hesitated but stepped in the building. She wouldn’t look at Dr. Bill or anyone we met as we walked to Ms. Jablonski’s classroom. As we turned the corner into the room, several bright, happy faces looked up and immediately welcomed Elise to their school. The students surrounded her with hellos and “would you like to sit by me.” This was something she had never experienced before. Typically it was just the opposite. Her face lit up, and I remember her turning to me and saying, “Bye mom, see you later.” She was off — and we’ve not looked back.
Today, Elise is getting ready to start her third school year at Madonna.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Joy of Normal

At the end of the school day, children of varied ages burst from the school doors. Some rush exuberantly, others meander, perhaps tired from the grind or maybe just too cool to run past their friends.  They climb into busses or carpools while loudly clamoring “Call me later!” or “See you tomorrow!” My son waits just inside the doors until his ride is in sight.  Very much like me as a child, always hiding from the wind, looking for shelter even during recess.

What makes this scene so great is the normalcy of it.  When Marcus was born, the concept of normal seemed to fly out of our lives.  I didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye.  Instead of a normal birthday, we faced specialists, social workers, and fear.

I was a young mother, forthright and possibly stubborn.  I did not like the term “normal.” It seemed to be the barrier between us and the great, indistinct them.  The doctors told me, “normal infants” will cry in the night; yours will not.  A “normal baby” will roll over at three months; don’t count on this.  “Normal children” will go to school and learn and play and make friends; don’t have high expectations. 

Marcus did cry in the night, and I wept with joy because of it.  He rolled over when he was two weeks old; the doctor didn’t believe me.  And he goes to a school where he learns, plays, and most importantly, makes friends. 

This is what Madonna School gives to him – the joy of normal. 

The Madonna School offers Marcus and over 50 other children a safe and nurturing environment.  He is encouraged based on his own strengths; he is educated in academic and independent living skills.  And alongside his friends, he is moving to conquer the next normal.

Please help us ensure a Madonna education is available to children who need it now and for decades to come.  Browse through the tabs and pages on this blog for tickets to our Celebration event. More information about the school and how you can help. 

Thank you!

                                                                                               (c) Mardra Sikora

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