We all want the same thing

Guest Blog by Heather Benton

K-2, EC Teacher, Salem Elementary

Burke County, NC

April was autism awareness month in our school. Students made posters for the “Tiger Paw Morning News.” And the whole school watched the autism awareness video produced by the county.

But the most beautiful event was the question and answer session with a panel of our autistic students. Questions were asked appropriately and even though my students were shy and unsure of what to say, they were prepared and did fantastic. Many of my autistic students became friends with peers who learned how to speak to them in the hallways, sit with them at lunch, and simply know that they want friends, too. Our staff is also more aware of ways to communicate with our students.

This was a great display of the six virtues. My students displayed the strength and courage needed to present to hundreds of their peers. And the rest of the school demonstrated humility, understanding, generosity, and imagination.



Taking a chance on a fifth grader

From Kelly Schultz, Fifth Grade Teacher, Isaac Dickson Elementary, Asheville, NC

My school houses the district classroom for students with behavior and emotional problems.  These students are known around campus for being angry, violent, disrespectful and low achieving. Two years ago, our school hired a new lead teacher for this classroom and she has done a fabulous job supporting these students and changing how our community looks at them.

I began the school year welcoming one of her students into my 5th grade class for both reading and math. Before the winter break, she sent an email to my team, asking for support with another 5th grade boy. She wanted one of our classrooms to begin his transition to regular classes in middle school. I had one of her students; she hoped this boy could join one of the other classrooms.

After her third request, I agreed to have him in my class (generosity).  It took courage to begin to work with another high needs student.  I had no idea how it would affect classroom culture, which was the primary concern we all had.

But I understood the importance of providing a stable, mainstream learning environment for this boy.  My attempt to provide this started with imagining how he could experience early successes in classroom activities.

He has been a part of my classroom for four months now. He joins us for daily reading instruction and participates in group activities and field trips. My students have welcomed him with open hearts and minds.

Bringing generosity, courage, understanding and imagination to this situation made my classroom a better place for all students, and the school a better place for a fifth grade boy.