I rushed to the kids’ school this afternoon for a parent-teacher meeting and saw the most excellent sight: Eileen Silva, back in the mix, helping her fellow teachers sort through the usual chaos of afternoon dismissal. The first-grade teacher missed all last year due to illness, but she’s back, and it’s like she never left.
We Brenners love Mrs. Silva for many of the same reasons other parents and students do: She’s a kind, nurturing and patient soul. But she’s particularly special to us because of what she did for Duncan at a very critical stage of his life.
Duncan was in first grade when he was first diagnosed with ADHD, and we didn’t know where to begin when the pediatrician gave us a list of recommendations as thick as a small novel. We brought it to Mrs. Silva during one of our after-school meetings. Some teachers might be overwhelmed to read a big bulleted list of recommendations like that. Teachers have plenty on their plate just dealing with the normal challenges of running a class full of boisterous children. Throw in a few kids with special requirements, and I’m sure it can be too much to take at times. True, every teacher has a few students with extra needs. That’s part of the job. But I’ve seen some handle it better than others.
Mrs. Silva took the list and lit up. She was thrilled to have so many details to work with, and she incorporated it into Duncan’s work load with grit and grace.
From our perspective, we had a big ally in our corner and felt like we might actually be able to get Duncan what he needed after all. Since then we’ve had plenty of support from other teachers and administrators. Duncan has done a lot of hard work himself, and we’re very proud of him.
But Mrs. Silva gets a very special place in our hearts because she helped us get this steamroller moving.
When I was Duncan’s age, I was the student teachers’ nightmares are made of. I had a boulder-sized chip on my shoulder because of serious childhood illness and my parents’ less-than-amicable divorce.
I also had learning difficulties. I received special services like Duncan did, but back then misbehaving kids were more likely to be written off as damaged goods. Today, the better school districts have a more rigorous process in place to ensure kids don’t fall through the cracks.
That’s how it often seems from my perspective, anyway.
There were teachers along the way that I felt were in my corner, rooting for me to overcome my limitations. But none were like Mrs. Silva.
For most parents, the greatest wish is for their kids to have it better than they did. When it comes to Duncan having an ally to guide him through the early rough patches, I got my wish.
Thanks, Mrs. Silva, and welcome back.