Special Needs Awareness and Advocacy 

I have recounted this story many times, every time I think about it, I get a lump in my throat and so teary eyed.  I still can’t believe how it went down.

Jasmine was a fair student, sometimes I didn’t think she was challenged, other times I thought she didn’t put forth as much effort as she could.  But math, oh boy!  She was in regular classes and pulled out for math. It was a struggle. I would sit at the table with her and go over math facts, flash cards, everything, she just couldn’t get it.  We would both have so much anxiety during homework time, I dreaded it.


This was very much on my mind when I attended Jasmine’s IEP meeting at the end of her 6th grade school year.  I wanted to brainstorm with the team as to what we could do to help her.  The teacher who was working with her in math during her pull-out time, was also Dominique’s teacher.  She was doing an excellent job with both girls, she would make up songs, raps, and poems to get the students to remember how to complete math problems.  She had a nice sized class of special needs students, all on different levels and dealing with a high- risk pregnancy, it was a lot on her. I knew Jasmine could do it, I was looking for a key to help unlock her potential.

During the meeting we discussed several options but kept coming to a dead end.  The school psychologist said, “I guess Jasmine is just falling through the cracks.”  That was the most absurd thing I had ever heard, that he would say that in a meeting with a parent.  As I think back, maybe that was his frustration as well, with the district’s lack of resources, funding, and staff.  I left that meeting in tears (which is not my style) vowing not to let her fall anymore.


During my drive back to work after the meeting, I decided to drive past a private catholic school that I have driven past for years.  I remember vividly parking my car in the rain.  School was out, I knocked on the door and the school secretary answered, “May I help you?”  I said, “I sure hope so, I need help for my daughter and I don’t know what to do!”  She went and found the principal, and both listened intently as I explained my plight. I wonder what they thought of me, lol.  When I was done, she said the school psychologist is here, let me go get her.  I explained my situation again.  She said, no problem, let me see what I can do, give me permission to get her records and I will call you next week. I had a little hope on my way back to work in the rain.

Sure enough, the following week, she called and said, we can take her.  I am mailing you documents, I think there is a scholarship available to help with tuition, bring her for a tour, and we will schedule a team meeting and talk about her needs and how we can help her and move forward.


Her first day, I call this picture “Opening New Doors”

It was a tough transition, a brand-new routine. Jasmine knew she had to move to another school, but she was scared.  Her sister was scared as well, they had always been in the same school and had a lot of interaction with each other along with riding the bus together.  Dominique couldn’t attend with Jasmine (you know I tried) they just didn’t have the accommodations for her. I was able to move Dominique to another school in the district as well since her teacher left for maternity leave.

Once we found a new routine and became acclimated, her potential was unlocked.  keyJasmine flourished at St. Jerome! Her grades improved, no longer tearful nights at the homework table. Her math improved dramatically along with her standardized test scores.  Her confidence level soared, the students were more compassionate towards her physical disabilities and she made new friends. The girl’s old teacher at the other school’s niece, was Jasmine’s English teacher at the new school.  What a coincidence!

During the middle of 8th grade, the principal asked me was Jasmine going to the sister high school. I really wanted her to go but hadn’t come up with a plan as to how I would pay for it. She said there is a scholarship program that excepts 4 students a year that pays tuition for each year if her grades remain good.  I want you to apply, you need several recommendations, and guess what?  I am on the scholarship board!!

I love telling this story because it sounds like a dream come true.  It was!  I learned a lot that year as a Mom. I learned to ask for help.  Ask~and you shall receive.

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