Back to School Countdown! 1….Huan

For many, tomorrow is the first day of school. Huan is here to count down this last day and share some fantastic news! Huan has been very clear about his feelings about his education.  At the beginning of the Summer, Huan, Ben, their families and I attended the Virginia State, I’m Determined Summit for youth with disabilities at James Madison University (I will tell you more about this amazing experience in a future post…so many great things to blog about, so little time!). The youth summit was very empowering! The guys participated in daily, small and large group sessions.  I tagged along, letter board in hand, serving as translator and trying to keep up with these two dynamos! The focus of the I’m Determined Summit was to encourage students to: advocate for themselves; navigate obstacles and roadblocks to their success; set short and long-term goals; and participate in their IEP (Individual Education Plan) meetings.  By the end of the summit, Huan had developed clearly defined plans. His long term goal:  ATTEND COLLEGE AS A RESIDENT STUDENT. To reach this goal, Huan specified his short-term goals, among those goals was: LEAVE SPECIAL EDUCATION IMMEDIATELY.  After reviewing the work Huan completed at the Youth Summit, his parents immediately called his school to schedule a new IEP meeting.  Huan completed the lesson below on August 14, 2014. Keep reading to find out what happened at the IEP meeting on August 28, 2014!

"The goal of education is not to educate for the sake of education but to learn," Huan.

“The goal of education is not to educate for the sake of education but to learn,” Huan.

Back to School
*Note, Huan has just started using the keyboard for his responses. Because this is a new skill, it is physically and mentally demanding, so we used the keyboard for the questions and quotes and the letter board for the creative writing.  

Today we are going to talk about education!

Spell Education.   EDUCATION

What do you think of when you hear the word education? LEARNING

Tell me one thing you expect to see at schools.  CLASSROOMS

Let’s discuss some famous quotes about education. Listen to the quote and tell me what you think it means.  (Click here for the entire lesson!) 

“You are always a student, never a master. You have to keep moving forward.”
~Conrad Hall (American cinematographer)
LEARNING NEVER STOPS.  YOU NEED TO MAKE FOR LONG TERM LEARNING.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
~ Nelson Mandela
KNOWLEDGE IS POWER AND YOU NEED POWER TO MAKE CHANGES IN THE WORLD.

“Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself.” ~John Dewey
THE GOAL OF EDUCATION IS NOT TO EDUCATE FOR THE SAKE OF EDUCATION BUT TO LEARN.

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” ~Aristotle
JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE SAYS SOMETHING DOES NOT MEAN IT IS A FACT.

“The older I grow, the more I am convinced that there is no education one can get from books and costly apparatus that is equal to that which can be gotten from contact with great men and women.” ~ Booker T. Washington
EDUCATION DOES NOT JUST HAPPEN AT SCHOOL.

Creative Writing: Write a letter to your teachers. Tell them about yourself. How do you learn best? What do you expect out of school this year?  What can they expect of you?

DEAR TEACHERS,
I AM OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THE NEW SCHOOL YEAR.  NICE TO BE ABLE TO COMMUNICATE MY EXPECTATIONS TO YOU.  I EXPECT TO BE ABLE TO ATTEND REGULAR CLASSES AND ACCESS GENERAL ED CLASSES.  FAIR EDUCATION IS BASED ON INTELLIGENCE NOT ON SPEAKING ABILITY.  I DO NOT HAVE TO SPEAK TO LEARN OR ACCESS REGULAR ED.  I AM FULLY CAPABLE OF LEARNING WITHOUT TALKING.  I DO NOT REQUIRE AN AIDE AS I CAN GO TO CLASSES INDEPENDENTLY.  BASICALLY, I AM ONLY ASKING FOR THE SAME THINGS YOU PROVIDE ALL OTHER STUDENTS.
SINCERELY,
HUAN

It doesn’t get any more clear than this! With this intention set, Huan, his parents and I entered his IEP meeting Friday morning.  Huan led off the meeting with this statement that he spelled on the letter board, “I AM HAPPY TO BE HERE TODAY. PLEASE KNOW THAT I RESPECT YOU AS EDUCATORS AND I WOULD LIKE TO REQUEST THAT YOU ALLOW ME TO ATTEND REGULAR EDUCATION CLASSES THIS YEAR. EVEN THOUGH I AM NONSPEAKING, I AM CAPABLE OF LEARNING.”  Bam!!! That is an opening statement! From this point the discussions began in earnest. Huan responded to questions from the team on the letter board and the wireless keyboard. Over the course of the meeting, there was a slow shift…from shock and disbelief to admiration and acceptance (this was the first time anyone from Huan’s school had seen him using RPM.) Huan and his family are not asking for the school to use RPM, just to allow him to attend classes in general education. The bottom line….after much discussion, the committee has agreed that Huan can attend regular classes!!! Another IEP meeting is needed to work out all the particulars, but tomorrow, Huan will begin visiting some regular ed classes to determine which classes he would like to take! Huan’s response to the committee, THANK YOU FOR YOUR BELIEF IN ME.  IT MEANS SO MUCH TO ME.

Huan and I at his IEP.

Huan and I at his IEP!  “I would like to request that you allow me to attend regular education classes this year.”

WOW! This moment was one of the best of my entire career! Huan was completely relaxed and radiating confidence the entire meeting (I have to confess that my hands were shaking for at least the first 2 minutes). Huan, his family and I walked out of the meeting with as much decorum as possible, walked down the hall and broke out into the craziest happy dance you can imagine! One GIANT step for Huan, one small step forward for nonspeaking kids everywhere!!!! ~Elizabeth

 

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3 thoughts on “Back to School Countdown! 1….Huan

  1. Watch out world! I had the pleasure of working with Huan at the GKTC film camp this summer. He is SO READY for general education – and so much more! I am so very happy for Huan, his family AND his school! They are very lucky to have him on board and I bet they will learn much from his presence and participation as well!

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