Friday, June 6, 2014

Saying Good Bye to Ms. Diana

Yesterday was Natalie's last day of school and we had to say good-bye to her teacher, Ms. Diana. Unfortunately, Ms. Diana will not be teaching Natalie next year and this makes us very sad, because she is one of the most influential women in Natalie's life.  This woman was truly part of the “village” I rely on to raise Natalie.

I work full time, I raise children full time and I’m a wife full time, so I am always grateful when I find good people to help shoulder the responsibilities of teaching my children.  I am not supermom and I cannot do it on my own.  I must have a strong network of people I trust and depend upon.

This is one of the pictures that Ms. Diana sent to me during my work day.
She captioned it, "Hi Mom!"
Ms. Diana & Natalie always knew how to brighten my day!
Ms. Diana helped Natalie so much, but she also helped me. She took away my fears and insecurities regarding my non verbal child in a school setting. When Natalie started school, I was petrified. Will she be treated fairly? Will she be a victim of verbal or physical abuse? How will I know if someone is mean to her? 

However, as I watched Natalie become more and more excited about school each morning, my fears and insecurities started to diminish. As I witnessed every day miracles, new words and a sentence every now and again, I became more confident in the decision we had made to place Natalie in school. 

Ms. Diana made an important, positive, lasting impact in Natalie's life and the lives of  our whole family.

She went above and beyond. She did things that she did not have to do, but she did it because she loves Natalie and she was proud of her accomplishments and she wanted to be sure that I knew about them too. Ms. Diana would send me texts throughout my work day to tell me about great and new things that Natalie was doing. "Natalie ate chicken nuggets with barbecue sauce!" or she would send me adorable pictures of Natalie cooking in the play kitchen
Ms. Diana captioned this: "  Our Little Chef :)  "

Our Little Chef :)
or walking hand in hand with a a fellow student. She would email me a video of Natalie talking during circle time . These small gestures were HUGE for me and my family. They brought me tears of joy and endless smiles. 

But one of the best things that she did was teach Natalie to say, "I Love You." That made me cry so much and it is a precious moment that I will never forget. Ms. Diana even recorded it! She says that she knew how much it would mean to me and set out to make it happen. She thought about how to best help Natalie with these words and remembered a song she learned as a child titled: 
Skinnamarink a dink a dink, Skinnamarink a dink a doo. I Love You
She immediately knew that this would be her tool for getting Natalie to say these words and use them appropriately. I'm not sure how long she worked with Natalie on this, but the day she gave Allan and I this surprise, I cried for 3 days--and even now. It means the world to me. It incorporates the words, "I Love You" with hand gestures. And whenever I tell Natalie, "I Love You," I do it with these gestures and she follows it up by doing the same and adding a hug! If this isn't an example of the importance of teachers in our lives and the lives of our children, I don't know what is.

Let me be clear, you have to be a kind and patient person to want to be a teacher of kids with special needs—but you must also be qualified and have the proper training and experience.  Ms. Diana has these qualities and so much more.

I could not be prouder of Natalie and the accomplishments she has had under Ms. Diana's direction.  I will miss this woman fiercely and I am sad to see her go.  I am looking forward to another preschool year and I know that Ms. Diana helped prepare Natalie for a great year, but we will always have a place in our hearts for you, Ms. Diana.

Ms. Diana and Natalie during Pajama Day

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