Friday, March 30, 2012

Report Card Time!

When he first came home from China, we homeschooled Colin along with Tommy. 

 By the time Cameron came home, Colin's comprehension was at a level where we felt that he could be successful in a school setting.  

Additionally, we learned really quickly that Colin was a convenient crutch for Cameron.  So long as Colin was around to speak Mandarin, Cameron did not need us.  That wasn't a good thing.
It was an understandable thing, but was going to make our attachment more challenging as well as his commitment to learn English.

So, all those factors combined, we decided to enroll Colin in middle school.

This was an especially difficult decision for me.  So, as He always does, our Heavenly Father gave me grace and brought into our lives a group of especially committed teachers and staff at our local school.  

I had always heard that my district school was one of the very best public schools in our county, and now I know why.

When we initially made the appointment to come visit the school, I was expecting to see the head of the Guidance Department. 

 I thought we might get a tour, and that we would be in and out as fast as they could shuffle us along.

What we received instead was a wonderful greeting.  

The Principal 

spent almost two hours with us, along with the very attentive and compassionate guidance counselor. 
**I must note here that  since Tom was a school Principal for about 30 years, we know that they don't have the luxury of spending two hours with ANYONE on a normal day.**
 They listened to Colin's story and asked questions about him.  They introduced Colin to the two other mandarin speaking students in the school and allowed the one with the best English skills to take him on the tour of the school.  She was a very polite and friendly 7th grade girl who had been in America for 5 years.  Her Mandarin was still very strong so Colin was put at ease right away.  

They even took into account (without me having to ask....) that he would be learning much more than academics from his fellow students and they scheduled him with the top academic tier students so that he would have a better group after which to model his behaviors and study skills.

Needless to say, this all worked together to make mama a little less fearful about his transition.  Now, I can't say that I wouldn't feel the same way about any of our children starting public school, but for Colin and Cameron the concern was different.  Neither of these boys has a spiritual filter by which to process what they see in the world.  They are both pleasers by nature and I was concerned that they would have a harder time discerning what was acceptable and unacceptable behavior.  Colin was such a "good boy" and I was concerned that this would change in a public school setting where Christ is not the standard.

However, our experience thus far has been very positive.  

Now, as to his academics.....

Colin is very strong in Math.  This was easily detected when we brought him home. He loves Math (to the exclusion of most everything else actually).  

The first time I saw Tom teaching him Math, his whole face lit up.  It was as if he was saying, "Finally, something that isn't a struggle!"

So, our middle school scheduled him with the Algebra I honors students for Math.

Now, state law prohibits any school from failing a foreign student the first year they are in the country due to the obvious language barriers.  Consequently, there was no legal push for Colin to learn or to do well at all.  No matter what his grades actually were, he would pass.

But, for the 8th grade team at Hanahan Middle School, that was not an acceptable standard.  Each of his teachers consulted on his progress as a team and they went way above the "acceptable minimum" and worked very hard to ensure that he was learning.  Many of his teachers have taken the extra time to translate his class notes for him and even have his tests translated into Chinese so that he can be assessed on his knowledge of the subject rather than his ability to read English.

As a parent that does a lot of this at home, I know what an effort it is and, as a former teacher with 500 students a week, I fully understand that this was a sacrifice of precious time and I am so grateful!

These teachers have been understanding of my concerns and they kept in regular contact with me to make sure that I was being made aware of his progress and his successes.

They assured me that he was doing well in social settings and making good friends.  They even paired him the first day with one of their most responsible male students so that he would have an instant friend.

These teachers genuinely care about my son and it has made all the difference for my mental health! :-)

So, now that you have a brief idea of his academic journey, let's get to the drumroll please...................


This week we received Colin's first public school report card and he got 

ALL A's!

We are very proud of his hard work and the way his teachers have worked so diligently to help him adjust to his new surroundings.

We are very proud of our new son!


Justine said...

Great job Colin!!!

And great job, mom! As a homeschooling mom who also ventured into the public school arena for the first time this semester, I know it was a big step. My son from Hong Kong has Down syndrome and is currently thriving at our local public school. I wrote about it here.

Jenni said...

I am tearing up with joy for you!! I love how the teachers and administrators are "caring for the orphans" in their love and attention for Colin!! (I know he is no longer an orphan since he has been blessed to be in your wonderful family, but they recognize what a gift it is to have him here and they are willing to take that extra time and devotion to help him!!) I'm very proud of him and of all you!! I am glad that God is blessing your efforts to follow His call on the lives of your family members!

Vicky said...

I'm so proud of Colin! Congratulations on a job well done!

The Rylands Family said...

Thanks everyone! We are reminded so often of how blessed we are to be allowed to parent each of our children. Colin is such a special boy and we love him dearly. I pray that the Holy Spirit would hound his heart and open his eyes to the Truth of God's love soon! He has so much to offer the kingdom.

Kelly said...

Way to go, Colin! That is just exceptional! What a blessing to have such a wonderful school! So thrilled for you guys. :)