Thanks to special people at Kedron Elementary

Terry Garlock's picture

How do you say thank you to someone for taking fine care of the thing most dear to you? Here is the only way I know.

Most of you parents learned earlier in life than I did that having a child changes you in ways you could not predict. Your priorities get turned on their head, your life becomes a bargaining chip you would trade in a heartbeat if required to protect your little one, and if they get really sick, you wish there was some way to take on their sickness to make them well again. My 7-year-old Kristen became sick last summer and still has seizures now and then.

Last week while I was out of town, my 12-year-old daughter, Melanie, was with my wife Julie and Kristen when Kristen had a seizure at the Peachtree City girls softball fields. While Julie held Kristen, Melanie whipped out her cell phone to keep track of our 5-minute limit on a seizure before calling for medical help, and when Kristen remained in seizure at five minutes Melanie didn’t ask, she just dialed 911, explained why her sister needed oxygen right away, and stayed on the phone to help the 911 operator guide paramedics to the scene.

As Kristen’s lips were turning blue, the oxygen arrived, she emerged from her seizure and all was well.

I am very proud of my pre-teen Melanie for conducting herself like a calm, responsible and competent adult when the pressure was on.

I drove home in the wee hours to watch Kristen perform in her first-grade play with enthusiasm the next morning at Kedron Elementary. That school has been so good to her during her first-grade year, I must tell you about it.

Some of you have kids with debilitating illnesses far more serious and permanent than my daughter’s. It is you I think about when dealing with Kristen’s problem, it is you I think about when I write about it here, how much it hurts to watch your little one struggle, and how vital it is to have teachers and other staff at school willing to go the extra mile to help your child keep up in class.

Last summer before school started, Ms. Christman, Kristen’s kindergarten teacher at Kedron, came to visit after hearing of Kristen’s illness, and brought reading materials to help assess her readiness for first grade.

She was ready, but the anti-seizure medication she was taking made her restless, unable to focus and uninhibited in dealing with others and responding to direction. Those were not good ingredients for classroom behavior. We were pleased to be assigned to Ms. Wiley’s first-grade class since she runs a disciplined classroom.

As the school year progressed, Ms. Wiley, assisted by Ms. Hayes, kept us informed of classroom behavior issues, which obviously took daily extra effort on their part, and we worked on it at home. I worried that Kristen’s fidgety reaction to her meds would make it necessary to move her to a special class to avoid disruption for the other kids.

But Ms. Wiley shared our desire to keep her with her classmates, and they tried different things like seating her where they could watch more closely, allowing her to stand up and move around a bit during class, etc.

As Kristen’s neurologist reduced her meds, trying to find acceptable lower doses, she became more settled in the class, but she had one seizure in the classroom and one on the playground. Ms. Wiley, Ms. Clark and the school nurse, Ms. Bihuniak, were prepared and handled the situation well.

At one point Ms. Bivens, the assistant principal, called a special meeting including our family and all the interested parties at the school. I thought to myself, “Uh-oh, we’ve pushed the limit of what they can do and we’re going to have to move Kristen to a special class.” Ms. Bivens opened the meeting with, “We’re here to explore ways that we can do a better job to help Kristen,” and I knew I had been dead wrong.

I should have known better. The Kedron Elementary principal, Ms. Bullock, deserves a whole bunch of credit as she retires this summer for running a tight ship and establishing a culture of excellence in her staff. In our years at Kedron it has not been unusual to hear other parents exclaim, “This is such a good school!”

It is, indeed. In the classroom, in the front office and in Ms. Clark’s after-school program, Kedron always makes me feel they care about my kid almost as much as I do. That is, I think, unusual, and it bears recognition, it calls for our heartfelt thanks for a job well done.

Kristen’s CRCT scores were quite good after a school year of hard work by her and her teachers, and that is notable, too.

Ms. Wiley decided not to retire just yet; she said she will teach another year. Ms. Bivens will take over as principal next school year, and I know she will continue the culture of excellence she helped to create at Kedron.

All of us in the Kedron Elementary district are the beneficiaries of those two decisions.

To all the staff at Kedron, you have been an important part of a memorable year for our family, and we are grateful.

[Email Terry Garlock, who lives in Peachtree City, at]

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