To the Special Education Teachers Whose Jobs Don’t End When School Does

To my son’s special education teachers,

The first thing I did after my son, Brock, was officially diagnosed with autism was call the elementary school in my town. I was completely lost after being handed a stack of paperwork with a “Good luck, you got this.” I wanted to see what services they offered if I decided to enroll him in public school.

I was transferred to the head of special education, Mrs. Carlson, and she immediately put my mind at ease. She added calm to my current storm, and it was everything I needed at that time. She didn’t say “I’m sorry,” which I was used to hearing after people learned of his diagnosis. She didn’t leave me feeling anything besides hope. I needed hope in that moment because I felt stuck — stuck with a stack of papers and nowhere to turn. She told me everything I needed to know. She said not to worry about anything but deciding what I thought would be best for Brock, and the services the school provided if he qualified for special education.

I decided to enroll him in public school, and I’m so happy I did. My son is now in first grade, and it’s his second year receiving special education services. This is everything I’ve wanted to say to my son’s special education teachers, Mrs. Carlson and Ms. Schueller.

I feel like I’m constantly thanking you both, or maybe I’m not doing it enough. As you know, I was scared to enroll Brock in public school (and spent a lot of time second-guessing my decision), but I had to admit to myself that, with his special needs, I couldn’t fully help him the way he needed. It was hard as his main caregiver to make a decision like that, especially after spending almost six years being the only one to care for him. I spent a lot of time researching schools and decided to choose yours after having a heartfelt discussion with you, Mrs. Carlson. I haven’t regretted that decision once.

As teachers you spend the most amount of time with our children (second to the parents, of course), so thank you for taking such good care of my son.

Thank you for always having Brock’s best interests at heart. Every time we’ve met for a meeting, chatted on the phone or through email, if an issue arises, you include me right away and do everything to solve it.

Thank you for always making sure he receives the services he deserves. And thank you for never making me feel like my rare requests for Brock’s education aren’t important, and implementing them into his education plan when I do have them.

I know you have more students than my son, but I appreciate you never reminding me of that fact. I also appreciate you not treating my son like a number or diagnosis. You see him for who he is: Brock.

I love that you both celebrate his successes with me. When he accomplishes something small or big, you call or email me right away because you are truly just as excited as I am. Like that time he worked through his anxiety and spoke in front of the whole elementary school. I had messages from multiple teachers because you all knew how big that was for him.

I didn’t know what my expectations were for Brock’s teachers when I enrolled him in school. I just hoped we would get along. You have far surpassed my expectations. You don’t just care about Brock during the school year. Ms. Schueller — you drove over an hour to walk alongside my family and friends to raise awareness for autism and support Brock. You also checked in during the summer to see how he was doing. Mrs. Carlson — the letters you sent Brock in the mail during the summer made him light up and feel like he still mattered even though school was out.

A parent/teacher relationship doesn’t have to be difficult or tense. We all care about the person we’re fighting for, and I’m glad we can stand together and fight for Brock. We’ve laughed over the silly stories he’s told and cried when he did something that seemed impossible previously.

You are a big part in shaping my son’s future. Thank you for always being team Brock — because he’s the most important in all of this.

The Mighty is asking the following: Share with us an unexpected moment with a teacher, parent or student during your (or your loved one’s) school year. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Share Your Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

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