New Orleans is a good change for us. The weather is warm these days, but we walk on the shady side of the street and we’re pool-sitting for friends in Europe for a month. So the weather doesn’t bother us too much. Everybody’s gearing up for the hurricane season, and we try to be well prepared, stocked up and otherwise mindful.
Perhaps the best change is regarding Lily who misses her friends and horseback riding (at Kildonan, she rode daily), but who has blossomed into this beautiful young woman. She bikes to Audubon Park to meet her girlfriends. She finds books on tape and plugs them into the car stereo and involves us. And she dances so well she will be going to NOCCA–New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts–for high school as a dance major. Our journey as parents has been to find for our child a path leading to Lily’s thriving. She complains (mildly) about moving every three years to a new school, and the one she graduated from in May, she was enrolled for only a year. But finding opportunities for growth has driven that momentum.
Dyslexics like Lily (and Dennis) learn differently. That’s fine. Finding a place to teach the Lilies of this world, and to maintain a pace for them that leads to breakthrough is another thing all together. Those schools are costly. We’ve had to sue school boards for some of her tuition, which, had we not done would have prevented Lily from growing her self esteem. When we moved her from an LD (Learning Different) school in Brooklyn to Amenia, she skipped 6 grade levels in Reading Comp in one year.
Did the Brooklyn school fail her? No, it just didn’t provide the things Lily really needed–one-on-one daily tutoring, horseback riding (she finally wanted to be something she was good at–A Jockey!), and an environment for learning that wasn’t highly politicized as almost all NYC schools seemed to be.
When we moved here, to NOLA, after six years of remediating the dyslexia we found a transition school, St. George’s Episcopal, where Lily got more of the things she needed–resource room, theatre (she got the lead in Little Women), ran track, and was mainstreamed in half of her classes. But it was a smart school full of not all, but many different learners so they had in place the tools–laptops, posted assignments, organizational requirements, arts classes, full blown sports program, and tiered English and Math classes that allowed Lily to progress from a LD environment to more of the Real World.
Our first year in New Orleans will be up in less than a month. In that time, Lily has progressed and thrived. She sees her grandparents and cousins and their kids on a regular basis; she discovered Crawfish and Bean Night (Mondays at Pawpaw’s) and Cross Country and Shakespeare and Dance Competitions and making a B average for the year even while partially mainstreamed.
Sometimes we have to impose change in order for us to grow. It’s like leaving a job to get a higher salary. (Used to work, as did I, ah well, never mind.) It’s hard to change for many of us. But as Stephen Schwartz wrote so well, “I have been changed for good.”