Thursday, February 19, 2009

Job Update

It is funny to me that we would be happy about Jason not getting a job. But we are. I know he would be miserable. He doesn't even LIKE recreation and that was our major. The hours were horrible. They wanted someone to give a long commitment to moving up through the department and Jason's heart was not in that. I have never been so happy that he didn't get a job (and he doesn't NOT get them very often!)

I was actually offered my job on Friday. I am so excited and never thought I would be about going back to work for someone. I will be the Volunteer Coordinator for a hospice in Athens. I will be basically creating the program from scratch and will be responsible for 15 counties around a 60 mile radius around Athens.

I'll update more as I know it. It is going to be an adjustment for all of us. Please pray for us! :)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

IEP Update

For those of you reading without knowledge of special ed or without a special needs child, this is a very involved post. I have posted a summary first for those of you who just want the basics. If you are involved in special ed or are family and want to know the details, feel free to read it all. :) Warning: it got long.

The meeting took almost two hours! I could not believe it when we walked out at almost 5:00pm. I was very impressed with the way it was set up. The school is very technologically advanced and used a laptop with projector to allow everyone to view it while we were writing it. They basically took the Mississippi IEP and wrote it on their form, asked if I thought all the goals and such were still appropriate and we changed a few things around to fit what GA does differently than MS. The have done quite a few tests already and are continuing to evaluate him according to GA's standards. We did put in a request for adaptive PE which is in addition to the regular PE class he will take. OT and PT know about him but have not done anything with him yet. He is testing lower than his MS scores indicate but that is typical of him as he seems to test better once he gets comfortable with a teacher.

My main concern with Music Man and his schooling is how exhausted he is every night. His school day is two hours longer here due to the bus ride to and from school. It is about an hour and ten minutes one way and for a typical kid it would be tiring. We did decide he needed a snack in the afternoon (!!!) as his lunch is at 12:30pm and he wasn't eating again until he got home at 4:30pm. We have to meet again in 60 days as a state-to-state transfer once all of his testing is done. We will review the IEP again and decide is anything needs to be adjusted or changed.

Music Man goes into a regular ed class as soon as he arrives at school just like he did in MS. I guess it would be called homeroom. I do not know how long he stays in there (tried to remember to ask for his daily schedule, but I think it is still not absolutely concrete since he is still doing a lot of testing.) He does get lunch, recess and specials (art, music, computer etc) with his regular ed class. He is also getting regular ed science and social studies with a para-pro, whom he adores. Reading is focused on a lot. I am unclear if what I am about to try to explain is what the school does or if it is district wide and I don't totally understand it all, but I will try my best to explain it. :) Classroom instruction is divided into units and a unit in this case is an hour. They have several reading units throughout the day (or is it week?) There is guided reading and teacher-directed reading as well as (I think) a regular reading unit/class. We are exploring how to divide up Noah's regular ed units (I think I heard yesterday that he gets 20 regular ed units in a given week.) We tossed around ideas such as the science and social studies being regular ed with the para-pro and then more self-contained/resource reading or even allowing him to go into more regular ed reading units such as the teacher-directed units and allowing the overlap of several reading units so he is getting exposure to more reading rather than just a minimal amount in the resource/self-contained class. My head is starting to hurt thinking about trying to explain it again. Forgive me. I am unsure if it is all clear. :)

I am concerned. I am very concerned. I love the school. I love the teachers. The administration is great. I am so worried about the length of his day. He doesn't seem to be making friends easily. He usually is able to tell me the names of friends as soon as he starts a new school year and new class. It has been two full weeks and he cannot tell me one name of a friend at school. His teachers were very glad to hear me point that out so they can be aware and help in that.

I am really just trying to get him through to the end of this school year and then re-evaluate during the summer. I hope and pray (really, really hard!!) that we are still here for next school term. I have been homesick for quite some time (like the whole eight years we were gone) and having just come back home, I am not ready to leave again. I really want to be close to family. I want my kids to grow up in the country and closer to family. Please pray for our transition to GA and as we look towards the future and dealing with the possibility of yet another move. And just so you know, moving again would mean that Jason was offered a ministry position that we felt God was telling us to take. We are not looking to just move for the sake of moving. It would definitely be God-led. Now all that being said, I am just trying to get though the year. I do not feel the bus ride is good for him but do not want to pull him out of school again when he is just trying to get used to things. We are considering other options as we look towards next school year and planning towards being here unless God leads otherwise.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Job Interview, IEP Update and Other Stuff

IEP was rescheduled to Friday at 3:00pm due to a scheduling conflict at the school. I will update after the IEP sometime this weekend.

Jason had a job interview yesterday. It went okay as he stated it. It was with the Morgan County Parks and Rec Department. It is entry level, but what our degree is actually in and he would be working a lot. It really wouldn't be more than what he does with Aquatic Expressions, but he would not be able to do anything else (like Aquatic.) Doing ministry along side this rec job would also be difficult as well. While we desperately need him to get the job, I have major mixed feelings about it. I was really hoping he could find a part-time permanent position so he could continue to do Aquatic and get back into ministry as well. But we will address that and deal with it if he is offered the job. PLEASE PRAY we make the right decision on any job consideration!

I have also been putting in applications and I am struggling with it too. I have not been paid for work regularly since Noah was born. It is very difficult to even fill out applications, construct a resume or feel like I am qualified since I have been doing volunteer non-profit work for the last seven years. Anyway, pray I will have the wisdom and courage when I need it.

And lastly, we have had a death in the family this week. Jason's best friend and cousin growing up lost his dad this week. If you have heard Jason preach regularly, you may have heard him talk about Russ and Brian. This was Russ' dad. Brian actually lost his dad last year. It has been difficult to say the least. Jason's dad was very close to Russ' dad as they are first cousins and grew up together. Today is the funeral. Please pray for the whole family during this time.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

I only want what is best for my child (doesn't everyone?)

I have really been struggling with this blog post. I have been avoiding it and procrastinating horribly. So what I have decided to do is to let you guys in on the basics and then if you have questions or comments, feel free to leave them here or email me.

Noah is attending a school on the other side of the county from us. He gets his own private bus that comes and picks him up in front of the house and drops him off again in the afternoon. The bus ride is about 45 minutes in the morning and almost an hour or so in the afternoons. It takes 30 minutes by car. I hate that the bus takes forever. I hate that he is all the way across the county and I hate that I can't just drive him myself - right now we cannot afford the gas. Now before you all start protesting about having him served in his home district, please read the whole post.

I called the Walton County BOE DEES office before we even left Mississippi. (DEES is the Department of Exceptional Education Services, for those of you not in Georgia.) They requested some things to be faxed so they might go ahead and make an initial placement decision before we arrived. Hopefully it would be the correct placement and he would not have to change schools. Well when we arrived, it was clear they wanted to place him in the school he is actually in now and we began fighting it because of the distance. He is exhausted in any given regular day we have, even while living in Mississippi and only being 10 minutes from school (with traffic!)

Well, the short of it is, he is going to that school now. We have other concerns such as him being the only non-self-contained kid in a self-contained classroom. The teachers and admin at the school said he was the highest functioning in the program. I hate that too. He does get most of his academics in there, but is in a regular classroom for science and social studies. He also does homeroom, lunch, recess and "specials" with his typical classroom. Specials are what we called activity classes in Mississippi - art, music, computer and library. They even get one day of Spanish per week! All that being said, it is still somewhat against what I feel is best for him. I really don't, however, want to uproot him again in the middle of the school year. Georgia has a few weeks off in March for intercession and then spring break. The school year ends just after Memorial Day and starts up on July 30 (!!!) in Walton County. I really think they are working towards a year-round program although I am not certain that is the case.

Now as to why I haven't fought to keep him in his home school. This school he is in is the only one, according to the BOE, that serves kids in a self-contained resource room similar to what Noah was getting in Mississippi. The one that we are district-ed for does not even have a resource room. They serve the kids in the regular classroom pulling out as needed (I think) if they need extra help. The way I understand though is that they pull out and go to the library and there is not even a resource room to go to. I do not want to fight to have them change everything about what they do in order to meet the needs of my child when they are not used to doing it that way. I don't feel the teacher would like it, benefit from it etc and who's to say she wouldn't take it out on me (Noah) if she wasn't happy about the situation. I know what I mean and it makes sense in my head, but I don't know if I am making sense to anyone but me.

For next year, if we are still here in Walton County, I am considering other options.

So that's that. Wednesday is our official IEP meeting for the state-to-state transfer. I am a little nervous as I always am with IEP meetings. The admin at the school is wonderful though and I do like his teachers.

I may update again after the IEP meeting. If not, email me for the details!
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