Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Words Affirm Me

At the end of a not so normal school year that had a lot of turmoil along the way comes a reassuring word from a colleague. Melissa is our occupational therapist and is retiring this year and kindly wrote a letter regarding the time we worked together. This is one of the rewards God promised. That those who know me will see my heart. Her precious words could not have come at a better time. Sitting here out of my classroom, away from my students, it is easy to doubt the impact I have made on them.

May 10, 2012

To Whom It May Concern,

I have worked with the Elementary School level Positive Support  Program since 1995. Of the teachers I have worked with in this program, I can honestly say Barbara has been the  most skilled, and most effective with these highly challenging children. I run a weekly OT activities group in the classroom as well as individual pull outs. Thus I am in the classroom, albeit briefly, as many as 10 to 14 times over the three days that I work at Mountain School.

I have been very impressed with how Mrs. Barber has dealt with our students with emotional and behavioral issues. These children range in grade level from 2nd to 6th grade and have IQs ranging from severely delayed to well above average. Their diagnosis range from developmentally delayed to victims of abuse and neglect, to Autism Spectrum Disorder. She has shown an excellent grasp of the needs and how to work with each child. There have been no incidents requiring me to shepherd the other students to another part of the building, as happened several times in past years. The class in general has been calmer, more structured and there have been fewer outbursts. Mostly, I have observed students engaged in group discussion and/ or classwork, working on individual programs on laptops and various hands-on activities. They also have shown a high level of comfort around Mrs. B. and generally engage with her in a friendly and often affectionate manner.

When I have witnessed these very challenging students act out, Mrs. B has been overwhelming positive, calm and fair. She shows sensitivity to their needs and I have never seen her act unpleasantly or even abruptly. She has been able to set limits in a very direct, consistent and reasonable manner without being unkind and the students have responded well to it. There has been a sharp decrease in the use of the 'time out' area. Raging out of control temper tantrums have dropped significantly over years past, and the acting out that I have personally witnessed has been more minor refusing to follow class rules, argumentative behavior, and bizarre noises. She has also instigated a low stimulus environment, a visual schedule and very willingly adopted suggestions from me for appropriate sensory equipment for slef regulation. She has provided a postitive role model for the Instructional Assistants in this classroom and they have followed her lead and acted in a very professional manner. Mrs. B has worked collaboratively with the regular education teachers and all but one of her students are actively mainstreamed in the appropriate regular classrooms.

But most importantly, Mrs. B cares deeply about her students and wants the bes possible outscome for them. She has remained hopeful that each child can, and will, improve and have a better life. It has been a privilege to work with her and I would have no hesitations or reservations about working with her in this type of classroom again.

Melissa OTR/L, MOT

I shared this letter for a couple reasons. Many who know and read my blog know that I have been going through a rough time at work. A situation beyond my control have dictated changes that I would never have chosen and I am not finishing the year in my own classroom. The other reason I added this letter to the blog was not to be boastful but to preserve Melissa's words. This blog is a sort of personal history of who I am and how I live my life. Her words are a reward during an otherwise not so rewarding time.

WOW! Guess I need to stop feeling sorry for myself about the loss of a few weeks this year and begin planning for my role as a PSP teacher at the middle school nest year. God has big plans to use me in my new classroom and I need to stop wasting time and roll up my sleeves. 

In Him,


  1. Every one of those words your co-worker wrote about you is precious. Of course you wanted to share it with us, and as you said, now the letter is preserved. Sweet affirmation of your successes in the class room.

  2. Her letter to you is an answer to a prayer. It may not even have been your prayer. Perhaps a student who needs you, or a parent. You are a blessing in more lives than you will ever know c