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Posted by on in Education Policy

Why are so many special education kids being suspended?

And what can we do about it? 

Writing for you on this drizzly day here in Eugene. It's been such a busy time for me, probably you, too. But here and there things have managed to creep in, catch my eyes and tell me I need to reflect and write. A couple weeks ago I started to write about special education kiddos and the high number of suspensions. 

As I am definitely ADD, ADHD and highly distractible, instead I read an article in US magazine about the college admission mom cheaters and ended up reading more stuff about the scandal and writing my last blog about that. 

However, I have been haunted by recent personal events and national news items urging me to write to you today.  

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Posted by on in Special Education


The little boy dropped his backpack on the kitchen floor and thrust his writing assignment at his mother. She could barely understand him through his sobs. “She didn’t even read it!” he shrieked. “I spent all night writing. She told us to write about what we know…and she didn’t even read it!!”

His mother wiped away his tears (and then her own) and put her arm around her son. She took the wrinkled paper and said, “Then I’ll read it.” 


Turtels are reptils that live on land and in water. Thay have hard shells that protect there sensativ bodys. Sometimes thay pull their bodys into there shells, espeshuley when thay are fritend.

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Tagged in: special education

Posted by on in General


"Mr. President, the pilot has announced he will be landing the plane in Dallas in ten minutes."

"You know, I don't have a good feeling about this. Tell the pilot to turn the plane around and head back to Washington. Okay?"

Such was a typical exchange between me and Luke, an eighth-grade special needs student. He usually provided the set up leaving me to improvise some witty response. Genuinely entertained and fully understanding my comeback, he did what any junior high student would do: he grinned, he groaned and he walked back to his seat.

Luke was a member of the developmental education class which consisted of several wonderful teenagers with intellectual disabilities. He was autistic and academically delayed, and his inability to fully socialize with others had greatly interfered with his learning over the years. He was intensely aware of his personal space and was fairly choosy as to who could be in it.

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Posted by on in Education Leadership

Last Thursday was the end of a mini-era. It was my last day as principal of Brookfield Elementary School, a K-8 out of district placement for students with behavioral and emotional difficulties. In 8 years as an educator, I have worked in 4 different schools. Each departure from a school has been difficult emotionally for their own reasons, but this last day was much different.

As I reflect on the goodbyes that I shared with our ESY students and my staff, I think of the familial atmosphere and culture that we created. We often discuss how our staff is a family, but it goes beyond the relationships that we have created with each other. We extend this mindset and relationship to our students  and our students extend it to each other.

In our world, we, both staff and students, are a part of everything that happens in the lives of each other. We celebrate the successes, we support during the struggles, and we inspire and learn through the failures. For some of our students, our school family is the closest thing to family that they have in their worlds. The relationships that we build and keep up are important for academic and therapeutic purposes, but are also essential for their surviving and thriving.

In a small school, everyone works so closely with each other. Everyone knows what everyone is experiencing and going through, both inside and outside of school. Our students are more than our students, they are our children. Our colleagues are more than peers, they are our brothers and sisters. We all love, support, and cherish each other in ways that I have never seen in a school. We are the epitome of what a family is and what every school should strive to achieve.

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Posted by on in Special Education

Once in awhile we meet Henry. He may be your child. Henry inspires and teaches that we all belong together. Tonight I am writing about Inclusion, in particular, one young spirit who overcame many obstacles, and his devoted mother. Mama love. Get your tissues, this story is like Rudy, Rocky and every feel-good inspirational book and movie, ever. Be sure to watch Henry's last basketball game with someone you love.

Before I moved to Eugene to be with my kids, my husband and I had a historic home in the middle of nowhere, Northern California. There were a couple of towns nearby, but our house was a kind of hang-out, with a pond, barn, community gardens, wildllife and berries. I was teaching at nearby Chapman University, and tutoring a lot of kids at the property. One day Patricia Storrs brought Henry over to work in the garden and see the house. He had been reluctant, fearful of the 1858 ghosts, incuding Mark Twain. 

Henry stayed in the car for over an hour. Patti and I checked on him, let him garner courage, and then he walked the property, house and had a great time touring on his own. It was joyous seeing him emerge from that car and do his thing. I knew that day that Henry is special, in the very best way.

Henry is a hometown hero.

While Principal, we had the District LH class on our campus. First thing I did was move the kids from the trailer in the North Forty right into the middle of our campus. Our students were fully included, or nearly, most of the day and participated in every school project, club and activity. The class was in charge of the the wildlife compound outside their door. These kids were our Henry, believe me.

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