It seemed a little strange that there would be an open house at Kaitlyn’s school so late in the year, but that is where we found ourselves last night. Honestly, it was pretty cool to be able to visit the school and her classrooms (yes, two classrooms) and talk to her teachers about the progress she has made this year.
After navigating our way through the PTO’s silent auction (although there was very little in the way of actual silence in the cafeteria), we went over to Kaitlyn’s main classroom. Kaitlyn was very excited to show us around and show us what she had been up to; there was a checklist on her desk of things that she was supposed to show us, and she happily did. While we were standing by her desk, Kaitlyn’s teacher came up to us and chatted for a few minutes. She made note that Kaitlyn’s desk was remarkably clean (for her, it seems), and also commented that her desk was not the most chaotic in the classroom earlier in the day. Of course, this point warranted further investigation (I waited until this morning to ask), and as it turns out, Kaitlyn’s desk was the second messiest in the classroom before she cleaned it earlier in the day. More on who had the messiest desk in just a minute.
From Kaitlyn’s regular classroom, we made our way to the gifted cottage. Kaitlyn was very excited to show us where she has been going for the last six weeks or so. Pretty much as soon as we walked into the cottage, it made perfect sense that Kaitlyn would have such a messy desk in her regular classroom; the gifted cottage is what most would consider utter chaos (although I would probably call it “organized chaos”). As it turns out, the student with the messiest desk in the regular classroom is also in the gifted program, so it made perfect sense to me once Kaitlyn told me.
It is actually a pretty neat statement on the learning environment that is fostered in the gifted cottage. In there, it is clear that there is the understanding that each of the kids learns differently, and those different ways of learning are embraced. We learned that one of the main goals of the gifted classroom is to enhance the strengths of the students, and by doing so, make the weaknesses even stronger. As funny as it sounds, what with Katlyn’s adherence to routines and structure, I am confident that she will thrive even more now that she will be in that type of environment; next year, she will continue to be in a regular classroom setting most of the day, and will also continue to move to the gifted area to enhance her day.
If you were to look through the archives of when I write about Kaitlyn’s school , you will see that this theme is repeated constantly: we love where she is and could not be happier with the teachers she has had and the environment she is in.
Kaitlyn loves dolphins. She fell in love with them right around her 5th birthday on our trip to Sea World. While we were there, she was fascinated by them as we watched them swim and play from the underwater observation area. She named one that was seemed to be paying particular attention to her Archie (also the name of her stuffed dolphin, of course). Ever since then, Kaitlyn seemed drawn to dolphins and has remarked several times about her desire to work with them when she grows up (of all the things she has wanted to be in just under 8 years, this has had the most staying power). At some point in the very near future, Amber and I are going to take her on a dolphin watching tour, and we would love to also have her do one of those swim with the dolphin experiences, too.
This morning, we were watching the Today show like we do every morning. They were doing a story on President Obama’s trip to Japan, and that story included some commentary about Ambassador Caroline Kennedy. As part of the story about Ambassador Kennedy, it documented some of the things she has done during her time in Japan to promote goodwill between our countries, and also one of the things that she has spoken out against that the Japanese people have been somewhat critical of her for. And it was the action that was criticized that had Kaitlyn all emotional and on the verge of tears this morning.
Apparently, it is a pretty popular thing in Japan to do something called a “herded dolphin hunt.” Which, you can imagine by its name, involves fishermen in boats basically “rounding up” pods of dolphins so that they can be hunted. Needless to say, Kaitlyn is not too happy about the practice. Once she started to regain her composure after the story aired, we could almost see her resolve starting to harden and her determination form in her desire to have that practice stopped.
Kaitlyn definitely feels a connection with animals (that is sort of a hallmark of people with Asperger’s), especially dolphins. Amber and I have no doubt that if she decides that she is going to work with the animals, she will, and if she decides that she wants to help carry the torch in stopping dolphin hunting, we know that very little can stop her. And we will support her every step of the way.
Today is a pretty big day for Kaitlyn at school. Starting this morning, she will spend most of her morning in a completely different classroom than she has been going to all year so far. And unlike with most disruptions to her routine, she is very excited about this change. Today, Kaitlyn starts going to spend some time in the gifted classroom.
We found out right before Spring Break that she had qualified for gifted, but we had to wait until last week for it to become official. Kaitlyn brought home paperwork last Monday for us to sign giving her permission to be in the gifted class, and Amber and I had a meeting at the school last Thursday to meet with the gifted teacher and the guidance counselor.
The meeting went great, too. The guidance counselor started by noting how far Kaitlyn has come since she started at the school. She noted that she has seen tremendous growth in her academically and also socially. Awesome!
During the meeting, we were given a copy of the results of the gifted test Kaitlyn took a few weeks ago. The results showed her standard scores and her overall percentile rank. To be considered for the gifted program, she needed to have a composite intelligence score at or above the 98th percentile on the Reynolds Intellectual Assessment Scales (RIAS) test. The test is broken down into two components, the verbal intelligence index and the nonverbal intelligence index. On the nonverbal intelligence index, Kaitlyn achieved a standard score of 121, which placed her in the 92nd percentile. This score, according to the report we were given, represents well above average nonverbal abilities. On the verbal intelligence index, Kaitlyn achieved a standard score of 137, which puts her at or above the 99th percentile. Her score represents significantly above average verbal intelligence abilities. Overall, her composite intelligence index scored at 133, which put her at or above the 99th percentile. Not too shabby.
We were given a copy of the goals Kaitlyn will be working toward over the next month (new goals coming in about a month or so). The goals are pretty straightforward, and I think they will challenge Kaitlyn, which is exactly what she needs to have happen.
There was an air of excitement at our house all weekend. It was like the weekend could not get over fast enough for her. We had to get her a binder with dividers to take to gifted this morning, and she carried that thing around with her a lot this weekend. She even asked Amber and I to write little messages on the inside of the binder so that she can read them during class if she starts to get overwhelmed or needs motivation. Amber and I were more than happy to write little messages to encourage her and to let her know how proud we are of her.
With the school year winding down, the next two months or so will serve as a great gauge for us and for Kaitlyn on what we will all have to expect from her being in gifted going forward. We know that there will be challenges along the way, and we know that it will mean more work for her, but I think it is something we are all ready for and embracing.
Kaitlyn brought home her report card for the third nine weeks this week. We actually got it the day they came out this time, and given the fact that she lost her report card last time, there was a 50/50 chance (at best), that its arrival would be delayed this time, too. I guess all that practice I made her do helped resolve the root problem from last time (failure to zip up her backpack).
Kaitlyn just keeps rolling along with getting great grades. Straight As again this time, and she exceeded expectations in all non-graded areas again. On the honor roll again, too.
Of course, her report card also contained the much-anticipated comments from her teacher, and those stayed about the same, too. “Kaitlyn is a pleasure to have in class.” “She continues to grow.” “We will continue to work on getting her to slow down on assignments to avoid making silly (my word, not her teacher’s) mistakes.” Same old, same old.
There is a big change coming for Kaitlyn starting next week, but Amber and I, along with her teacher and school administration, believe that it will only help Kaitlyn continue to grow and excel.