Sports football rolling list websitevirtual children by Scott Warnock

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I am proud of my youngest, Zachary, for concluding his elementary school years (that’s it for us!) by achieving Honor Roll for the year and High Honor Roll for the last marking period. He did well and worked hard. But this is a total team win.

Zachary is one of those, uh, what we would call back in the day, high-energy kids. He always has been. He’s incredibly curious. He asks a million questions. He’s always on the move. He investigates. He climbs (and sometimes falls off) things.

When at a recent school board meeting he was awarded his Honor Roll pin by our superb superintendent, Mary Ellen Eck, I thought back three and a half years to a fifth-grade parent-teacher conference at Riverton School. My wife and I met with Doreen Walter, who had also taught my other two. We loved her for many reasons, including that she had treated them all quite differently, as befitting their personalities.

Through the years, parent-teacher conferences about Zachary followed a familiar path: Sigh, if he worked a little harder on simple things, e.g., turning in all his homework, completing in-class work on time, his grades would be great. But during that meeting, the three of us had a straight-up conversation about his attention issues. We knew he was all over the place, but he enjoyed school, had plenty of friends, and was happy in general.

Almost welling up with tears, Mrs. Walter showed us things like papers that he had ground his pen tip into. We asked questions, learning that he wasn’t a disruptive class presence and he wasn’t driving her nuts every day. She enjoyed him, but we all worried a little. She just wanted, and the sincerity with which she said this was palpable, him to do the best he could. The papers with ground pen-tip marks — could they be a demonstration of a budding frustration with learning?

My wife and I agreed to pursue this, but Mrs. Walter made one thing clear: She was not ringing alarm bells.

We went to our pediatrician, the wonderful Dr. Mike (Schlitt). He asked questions of us and of Zachary about his happiness and mood, and then, with Zachary sitting right there, he discussed attention issues. He saw a happy, bright kid, and, in a nutshell, he said that while at age 11 that child might not be receiving grades that matched his potential or intellect, as long as he was not significantly lagging, there was no need to ring the alarm bells.

In fact, Dr. Mike said, he himself was a child much like Zachary: A little preoccupied, a little dreamy, a little hyper. Now he was a doctor.

We returned to the school and had a meeting with superintendent Mary Ellen Eck and learning consultant Leslie Scaramazza. We developed a plan, but, really, the recommended practices were already being attended to by Mrs. Walter.

I’ll use the phrase “alarm bells” here again: No one rang them. Now, to be sure, there are times to ring those bells. If Zachary was in trouble in school, lagging significantly behind benchmarks, suffering from prolonged sadness or anxiety. But he enjoyed going to school each day. He was, as I’ve said, happy.

So, we lucked out. Everyone worked together. They tried to see Zachary in a holistic way, to see him as what he would be as much as what he was at that time. No one reached immediately for the quick-fix, the magic pill. No one was quick to label him.

We all did a tough thing: We waited.

Every year, Zachary’s success at school increased. Sure, I’d grimace when a report card would be blemished by his grade in, say, Language Arts (I’m an English Professor, for cripe’s sake). Sure, we marveled at the seemingly infinite ways he found not to turn in homework — elevating it to an art. But the teachers in middle school, the administration, the physician, and we believed he would grow into himself as a learner.

And he did. When he received that Honor Roll pin, not only had he earned it, but his accomplishment could be shared by many good people who didn’t overreact, overtreat, overmanage, and overindulge — who let him be a high-energy but happy child.

Scott Warnock is a writer and teacher who lives in South Jersey. He is a professor of English at Drexel University, where he directs the University Writing Program. Father of three and husband of one, Scott is on two local school boards and coaches all kinds of youth sports.
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One Response to “A team Honor Roll recognition”

  1. Thank you for sharing this personal story. Great story for so many reasons.

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