“Next Year, You’ll Rule the School!”

posted Friday May 31st, 2013

Sophie’s not supposed to have a very good memory.

There’s the whole Down syndrome thing, of course, and on top of that even though the sensors fell off and we never got good test results, she’s got to have pretty bad sleep apnea. Last night I found her asleep on the couch, sitting straight up, her mouth pointed to the sky, simultaneously snorting and sucking air.

And yet she’s constantly surprising me with what she remembers.

Two years ago, Annabelle left our local elementary school a year early to go to an arts charter school across town. The elementary school goes through fifth grade, but the charter school starts at fifth. I didn’t think Sophie remembered that happened, let alone grasped what it meant. But there she was, standing in the middle of the kitchen on the last day of fourth grade, stomping her foot and demanding to go to the charter school next year.

“But Sophie, next year you’ll rule the school!” I told her. “You’ll be the oldest one there. Won’t that be fun?”

No, she said. She wants to to go the charter school.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re wondering what Sophie’s wondering — why she can’t go that charter school with her sister. Some days I wonder the same thing. But most of the time I realize with a clarity I lack elsewhere in my life that it just won’t work.

This charter school not only offers kids rigorous instruction in performing arts (Annabelle’s taken ballet, choir and piano almost daily for the last two years), the academics are tough. Very tough. As in some of the highest scores in the state tough.

I know more than one typical — even allegedly above average — kid who’s been held back a grade, or asked to leave the charter school, simply because she wasn’t quite up to snuff.

The truth is that Sophie’s nowhere near snuff.

Yes, legally she has a right to be at that school, and I could strong arm our way in. But she’d be miserable. The school officials would be miserable. And I worry a lot about Annabelle being miserable at this place she’s forged as her own. (It hasn’t been easy for her.)

Potential misery aside, I want Sophie mainstreamed as much as possible, not sitting in a room by herself because she can’t hit the high notes or master the keys or stay in place at the ballet bar, let alone do the math.

What I want is just the right school for Sophie — a school like this charter school, but with a little wiggle room, high but realistic expectations and a diverse population.

I’m looking. I’ve got another year.

At least, I thought I did.

Did you enjoy this article?
Share the love
Get updates!
Tags: Filed under: charter school, Down syndrome by Amysilverman

One Response to ““Next Year, You’ll Rule the School!””

  1. Have you looked into Eduprize? One of my student teachers is starting there this fall. She said that they do have a special education program, students also learn Spanish, and have science labs.

Leave a Reply

My Heart Can't Even Believe It: A Story of Science, Love, and Down Syndrome is available from Amazon and 
Changing Hands Bookstore
. For information about readings and other events, click here.


All content ©Amy Silverman | Site design & integration by New Amsterdam Consulting