Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Another Oklahoma Tribute

I met a pioneer, a couple of weeks ago. She’s retiring from a 30+ year career in public education, currently an elementary school principal. We got to talking, and she mentioned special ed. I asked her if she’d been a special ed teacher. She had not, but she began to talk about her involvement in setting up some pretty innovative programs several years ago. She set up Early Intervention programs, parent’s groups, mainstream classes, and other things for our kids just as they were beginning to come home, rather than being sent into institutions. She is one of those people who “got it” early on and ran with it, rather than resisting change. What blew me away was her description of setting up the first group home in her area. She and some others saw a need, and filled it. They found financing, got someone to donate land, designed a facility (one building for men, another for women, common areas, etc.) , and had the thing up and running in about 3 years. It’s still there, today. I can’t express how great it felt to hear her go on in detail about how she made things work, mentioning kids and parents along the way that had obviously changed her life, too, in the process. Because it was a casual conversation, I didn’t feel comfortable saying “Thank You” to her for all of it, for all of us. I am grateful, for her and those like her who moved beyond prejudice and saw children, who set aside their own fears, perhaps, to make a better life for all of us. So I’m thanking her, here, and there, and I know she’ll get the message, eventually. Thanks, Aunt Janice!