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  • Writer's pictureJodi Samuels

The End Of A Chapter

Updated: Mar 8, 2021

The end of a school year is always a bittersweet experience. My 3 kids have the swirling emotions of sadness about moving on from teachers they have learned from and classrooms that they developed friendships in. At the same time, there is the excitement of spending our summer in Israel, going to camp there and the promise of new classes and teachers next year.

We moved our two older kids to SAR in Riverdale last September and on their last day of school, it was time to take stock – “So guys, how was your year at SAR?” Both seem to have had a really good year and flourished in their new environment. “Good, good, good!” from Meron and Temira said, “Imma, SAR just fits me like a glove.”

Having a special needs child is in many ways the same as having a regularly developing child but the experience is much more intense – there is more work, but the joy of parenting is also much more intense. This experience is particularly obvious in the context of education and schooling.

We started the school year for Caily with much trepidation – 4-year-old nursery is not just playing. This year pre-literate skills are taught, behavior requirements are stricter and kids begin noticing differences. Couple this with the anxiety that we had about not knowing where Caily would go starting this coming September.

Thankfully, on both categories of concerns, things worked out so much better than expected. SAR graciously accepted and committed to work with us to help Caily in an inclusion setting (see previous blog on this

As far as the school year went, Caily was just spectacular. She learned so much, she participated, she excelled, she was a much loved and popular member of the class community, and much sought after for after-school play dates.

I once heard an idea about education: “It is not what you learn, it is about what you become.” And in this context, what a wonderful year it has been. Caily has become a confident and integrated part of her class with all the childlike enthusiasm for her next year at SAR. Her dear, sweet teachers at Chabad have become better teachers and better people through their experience with Caily this year. The other class moms will forever have a different reaction and knee-jerk response to children with special needs and a class of wonderful nursery school children have spent a formative year of their lives learning that not everyone is the exactly the same as them but different people can make special and loving friends.

It is also at times like this that we should express ha- karat hatov(thanks) and I want to say a huge thanks to all the kids teachers, to Caily’s therapists, and to Chabad for showing unconditional love and acceptance to Caily and our family. I still recall arriving for our interview and I was so nervous. The other schools had rejected us and my lip was quivering and tears streaming. Pearl the Principal looked at me and she said, “Every Jewish Child has the right to a Jewish Education.” Thank you not just for Caily but for all special needs children in our community looking for an opportunity to be truly included in Jewish life. Thank you for seeing possibility when others saw obstacles.

Please see the video below for an interview with Caily’s principal and class teacher about their experiences this year.

Originally published: June 20, 2012


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