Some Say My Son Doesn't Count. They're Wrong!

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By Shawanda Tyson

My son, Marell, has attended School 42 for three years now and I was concerned about its transition to an innovation school because of the fear of the unknown.

I will never forget the day my son got off the bus, tears streaming down his eyes and screaming that Mrs. Long, his special education teacher, was leaving school 42. It was right then that I knew that change had just hit my home.

The fear of this change and the impact it had on my son left me in an uncertain place because in my mind, we had come a long way.

Before the transition to innovation, he had teachers at School 42 who truly cared for him. However, I also understood that the entire school needed help. Our children needed and deserved more support to get where they needed to be, performing at their own grade level and prepared for their futures.

When Marell started this school year, Ignite Achievement Academy at Elder W. Diggs School 42 was now an Innovation school, and I was nervous. My son struggles with environmental changes and this one would be a very hard transition for him.

Being my child’s first advocate, I was able to meet with the co-principals Shy-Quon Eli and Brooke Beavers and on that first day of school, I could tell that this team had done their research on my son. School 42 was still our home.

Marell started the school year this year in 3rd grade while reading at an almost 2nd-grade reading level. The beginning of year assessments along with assessments from last year reflected that he was behind severely academically.

I have always been concerned that he would have teachers and staff members who would allow him to feel helpless because he is autistic. I also had doubts that they didn’t really know him and they would give up on him academically and allow his behavior to deter him from his education.

I know my son. He is brilliant, and he has risen to every challenge anyone has ever given him!

My fears have now been thrown out the window because the team at Ignite has gone above and beyond for my child, and has allowed me to actively support its transition to an Innovation school. They are truly like a family and they have refused to let my son slip through the cracks!

I love that about school 42, and every child deserves the same level of support in every school in our city and Innovation schools are IPS schools, plain and simple.

And no matter if others in our community refuse to recognize this, my son—and your son or daughter—all deserve to have the educational resources that can bring out their best.

A few weeks ago, I received a call from Marell's teacher telling me that she had exciting news. His middle of the year reading assessment came back and he has moved up a whole reading grade level by just working with this team!

I showed up to the school to pick him up that day and the staff greeted me at the door while cheering for Marell. I was in tears! He was so happy and my son sees that so many others in the school now see the same thing that I have known for years, he can accomplish anything! They cheered for me as well, and I have not felt so overwhelmed with motivation.

I will always demand the best education for my children and challenge them to never just meet the standard, but to set a new standard. I believe school 42 has offered my son the tools he needs to succeed and I’m proud that this Innovation school is available to me and others whose children attend an IPS school.

Originally published on Stand for Children Indiana