Author Archive: TommyK

Pony Express

The Thursday before the first day of school, we went to meet Kaitlyn’s teacher and get her signed up for the after school program, just like we do every year.  This year, the school had a setup of different “leadership” positions for students to apply to.  Much to our surprise, Kaitlyn applied for three positions.

Pony-express-statueWe found out this week that Kaitlyn has been selected to participate in the “Pony Express” at school.  Several times per week, she will be part of a team of students who will get to deliver mail and stuff to teachers and administrators.  It will be a good way for her to meet even more of the teachers and will force her to come out of her shell even more.  Amber and I are excited that it will help with her social skills and social development.

Because there was such a high demand for so many of the positions, Kaitlyn will still have a chance to experience (if she is selected) the other two she applied for, safety patrol and media center aide.

Kaitlyn is really excited to start her new role next week, and Amber and I are excited for her.

Off To A Great Start

Well, that didn’t take long.

Kaitlyn just started school last week, and she is already off to a great start.  She seems to like her teachers and her classmates, and is even more excited than usual about what the year will bring.

She also threw out a little bit of a challenge to a classmate (not directly, she relayed it through his mom, who was Kaitlyn’s first grade teacher) when it comes to AR points.  She is determined to get more points than him this year, and that will be quite the challenge since he is usually one of the students near the top every year.

Open-BookThey did their baseline testing for grade level AR and initial point goal last week, and Kaitlyn was given a goal of 15 points for this grading period.  As of Friday, she was already at 11 points, with an average grade level of books read of 5.3; she has already read 66,258 words, and that is only counting from the books she has taken a quiz on, not what she reads for fun at home.

I don’t know, and I am not especially concerned, if she will fulfill her goal of beating her classmate in AR points this year.  Amber and I will certainly encourage her to do her best to do so, but we are really more concerned with her staying motivated and doing the best she possibly can.  She is off to a great start!

A “Cool” Tradition

One of the things that I enjoy the most about the first day of school, other than the huge savings of not having to pay for summer camp anymore, is a tradition that Kaitlyn and I started back when she was in 1st grade.  It is our annual “Ice Cream Night.”

dipped-ice-cream-cones-7So, as you are reading this, Kaitlyn and I are enjoying some tasty ice cream, while she is telling me about her first day of 4th grade.

I don’t know how many more years Kaitlyn will want to have ice cream with me on the first day of school, but I plan on enjoying each and every one until she tells me that she has had enough.  Of course, if I get my way, this cool tradition (see what I did there?) will continue through high school and while she is in college, too.  A dad can dream, I guess.

Back To School…

Wow, where did summer go?!?  It seems like just yesterday Kaitlyn was starting summer camp, and here she is today, starting 4th grade.

schoolhouse1

We met Kaitlyn’s teacher last Thursday, and we are very encouraged by her enthusiasm, and Kaitlyn seemed to like her, too.  We think that this is going to be another great year for her.  She is going into the year with a goal of beating one of her classmates in AR points, which will be a tall task considering he accumulated over 300 last year; we’ll be happy if Kaitlyn just continues to advance in her reading and vocabulary and gets as many points as she can–if she gets more than her classmate, that is a bonus.

Kaitlyn will have her first gifted teacher again this year.  She had her for the end of second grade, right after she entered the program, and then had two different (and great) teachers for gifted last year.  Amber and I are excited about Kaitlyn being even further challenged this year.

We should find out early on whether or not Kaitlyn was selected to one of the leadership roles she applied for: safety patrol, media center aide, and “Pony Express.”  If she gets one, two, or all three (I doubt the school will overload kids, but I guess we will see), it will be a positive step in helping to develop her social skills even more.

While the summer flew by, I am sure that Kaitlyn will have plenty of fond memories, especially our vacation to Panama City Beach (with great company, I might add).  She got to spend time on the beach, in the pool, interacting with dolphins at Gulf World Marine Park, and watching wild dolphins play in the Gulf.  That is all on top of all of the different trips she took during summer camp.  Wild Dolphin

 

A “Curious” Controversy

The school year is about to start tomorrow, and it seems to be a consistent thing in our district for students to get a summer reading packet and other assorted problems to work on.  I had thought it was something that was done for elementary school kids only (since Kaitlyn is in elementary school and has had summer homework every year), but I learned last week that high school students also have summer reading assigned.

Usually, I don’t give much more than a passing glance to many of the headlines in our local paper (we only get the Sunday paper anyway), but one caught my eye last week.  “Dropped reading assignment raises questions of censorship.”  I was intrigued, so I starting reading the article.  Then I was even more interested.

At one of our local high schools, the students were assigned a book called The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon.  What got me interested was the description of the narrator of the story, a 15 year old British boy attempting to figure out who killed a neighborhood dog; he is described as a “mathematical whiz, with traits similar to Asperger Syndrome.”  You can probably imagine why that would get me interested.  Curious

The boy in the novel is described further as “seeing and hearing in an almost emotionless way, including when adults around him curse or doubt the existence of God.”  That sounded really familiar.

Anyway, a week before the start of school, a local principal pulled the book from the summer reading list.  It didn’t take long to figure out why the principal made such a decision (an idiotic decision in my opinion): concerns over “the delivery of the text.”  By this point, my blood pressure was increasing, but I kept reading.  What struck me even more was a quote from a parent, most likely one of the few who complained loud enough to get the book pulled, “…but to have that language and to take the name of Christ in vain–I don’t go for that.  As a Christian, and as a female I was offended.”  Seriously?  Maybe try looking deeper and not making it about you.

I ordered the book online, starting reading it Friday during my lunch, and finished it today.  Is there salty language in there?  Yep.  Is the existence of heaven brought into question?  Yep.  Is the name of Christ taken in vain?  Yep.  Do I think the book should have been pulled?  Nope.  Will I let Kaitlyn read it when she is a little older?  Absolutely!

While I was reading the book, I could see different traits of Kaitlyn coming through in the narrator.  Good at math.  Logical and rational thinker.  Difficulty with jokes and sarcasm.  Literal application of words.  All of those things are true about the narrator, and are true about Kaitlyn, and are true about so many other kids.  It’s called Asperger Syndrome.

My advice to the mom I quoted above, and who was quoted in the local paper would be to get over yourself.  It is a book, written from the perspective of someone who has a brilliant mind and no filter.  That is life.  As a self-described “Christian woman,” I would have expected her to show tolerance and understanding of a book written from the perspective of a child who is probably not like her perfect little angel.  It is people like her, who cannot seem to accept people who are not like them, that make life difficult for people like Kaitlyn.  Instead of attempting to understand people who may be “different,” they are shut out and shunned.  That is not really the way I want to go about my life.

If you get a chance, pick up this book and read it with an open mind.  You might learn something about yourself, and you might learn something about people like Kaitlyn.

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