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Story Time: More than words

Posted on Tuesday, August 15, 2023 at 11:13 am

By Lorry Myers

He wouldn’t look at her nor acknowledge where he was. When the teacher asked her new student a question, he would shriek and flail his arms.

His eyes said more than words.

Christopher’s father told the new teacher that Christopher’s mother had left and grandma had moved in to help. Dad worked two jobs to pay the medical bills and knew his son needed more but didn’t know what that was.

He was hoping the new teacher would.

My youngest daughter is a passionate educator and strong advocate for children who need her. This first year, her classroom was small and every one of her eight students had a para-professional by their side. Each student in this new program had different needs and different strengths and my daughter loved putting the pieces of their puzzles together.

Teaching is her dream job.

Every day, Mariah slipped a log book into Christopher’s backpack so Dad and Grandma could see what they were working on. On Fridays, she summarized the progress of that week and what the next week would bring. In the journal, Christopher’s father read that the teacher was going to start using sign language with his son. The boy had only ever screeched and rolled his eyes, could he really understand sign language?

No one had ever tried.

Monday morning, the sign language lessons began. Over and over pictures and words were repeated, simple words like thank you, more, drink and eat. Hands and fingers moving again and again, day after day. By Friday morning, my daughter was beginning to doubt herself when suddenly, there it was, the moment when the switch flips on and the dawn of understanding lights a child’s face.

The moment a teacher knows that everything has changed.

Late that night, Mariah answered a phone call from Christopher’s dad who was worried about his son. The little boy kept repeating a hand gesture over and over again. Dad pulled the journal and was stunned about the connection Christopher had made with sign language. Now he was worried that his boy was trying to tell him something and he didn’t understand. In the background Mariah could hear Christopher shrieking in frustration.

For the complete column, see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard