Tonight I wrote a letter to my old public elementary school where I attended. I wanted to share it here as well to drum up some conversation around labeling kids with codes of special needs in schools.
My letter is open and raw. Sharing what I experienced. I know that things have changed in schools, yet a lot can still be done for inclusion of all students. As well as bullying is taken a lot more seriously today, than it was in the 80’s. I took out the principal’s name for this blog and addressed just ‘principal’. As well as I shortened my elementary school and secondary schools to just initials.
How many of your students are coded with special needs in your school? What I know to be true is that when I went to school at VWPS the idea of coding students was just coming into use. Why do I know this? Let me introduce myself. My name is Aime Hutton, and I graduated grade 8 in June, 1991 from VWPS.
While going to school I struggled with the core subjects in math, reading, spelling, and comprehension. I had many academic tests done in grade three to help understand what was going on with me. It was deemed by the test results and the school system that I was diagnosed as a slow learner, and had border line learning disabilities/challenges. I was told I would never write well, always be the “C” student never the “A” student. My parents had a meeting after these test results came to light with the school principal, resource teacher, and the grade three teachers. The school suggested having me in the special education program to continue my schooling at VWPS. My parents were to have none of this. They fought the suggestion from the school. What was agreed upon was that I was held back a year in grade 3 to re-do it again. I also had extra help in the class from the teachers, and the teacher’s assistant.
There were many nights I can remember sitting at the kitchen table in tears with spelling and math homework. My brain just could not get the concepts. Yet I kept at it, and completed my homework each night. My parents and I were elated when I got a 70% or higher on any tests, or even just a passing mark.
When I was held back a year to re-do grade three, is when the bullying started. Back then we called it teasing or ‘picking on’ someone. However being flung around the girls change room in grade 7 by my bra strap and flung into the cubby’s is more than just teasing or ‘picking on’ someone. I was teased and bullied from grades three to eight. On top of the academic struggles I had each night, I would come home upset from the teasing and bullying. My parents did what they could, and encouraged me to keep going each day, and go to school. At the grade eight graduation I was presented with the Most Improved Student Award. I did it without going into the special education program.
I went onto DHS for grade nine, and then PRSS (when it opened in September 1992) for the remaining years of high school. Then completing my OAC’s (Grade 13) and being accepted to Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario where I graduated with a BA in Sociology.
I lived with the thoughts of ‘not good enough’ to be the “A” student throughout my schooling and into adulthood.
Why did I just share this personal information with you? It is my intention that you and your teachers think about coding your students. As well as help your students who are being bullied. I am aware of different programs and lectures now about bullying which is a help and a start. Yet more can be done in regards to self-esteem/confidence.
Speaking of self-confidence, I have broken the mental and emotional block about being that “C” student. I have now been published in 2 international bestselling book anthologies. Also what you find in this package to you is a book that I compiled in August 2014. I am an international bestselling compiler. I have blown that idea of not writing well as told to me in elementary school out of the water.
Enjoy the book “Inch by Inch ~ Growing in Life” as my gift to you, and your staff. If others wish to purchase the book it is available on Amazon.com. The book has 30 stories of children overcoming adversity under the age of 12.
I also now am an Empowerment Leader, working with girls on self-esteem/confidence, and self-acceptance. Which I believe can help curb and stop bullying. Children bully a lot of the time because they are not happy with themselves, and bully someone because it makes them feel better. As well as I am a Transformational Speaker sharing my story of resiliency, to empower audiences to never give up, to keep going no matter what. Bullying and academic struggles were not my first time being resilient. As you will read in my book, I am a miracle baby, with being born in 1976, at 26 weeks gestation, my birth weight was 1 pound 12 ounces, I was given 24hrs to live.
Offering hope to everyone that it does get better, that they can overcome any challenge they face.
I look forward to hearing from you, to help empower your students and staff alike.