Today Miss Courtney graduates from Kilmer Center. This school has been our home for the last seven and a half years. She has been encouraged, loved and cared for by the incredible staff each and every day. It’s hard to put into words what this community of teachers, therapists and support staff mean to our family but I will try.
When you have a special needs child whose abilities differ from the general population there are many challenges that arise in finding the right educational/therapeutic environment for your child. For us we needed a safe place that had extra medical support for our girl whose seizures come and go at will. We wanted a school that saw the dignity of our daughter and the potential she held within to do her very best using every skill she had learned over time.
We wanted an environment filled with people who believed that Miss Courtney could accomplish anything. It took a year for her to take her first step in a gait trainer. But she did it. It took almost two years for her to learn to hit a switch to let someone know what her choice would be to any given question. The patience and focus that that requires is astounding for someone like Courtney who has to struggle through the fog of medication, existing brain damage and seizure activity to figure out what’s going on in the world.
We found these things at Kilmer Center. We found a teacher in Miss Betsy who enveloped our daughter in love and security, encouraging her and directing her for these past seven and a half years. Miss Betsy challenged Courtney and was incredibly patient waiting for our girl to meet each goal, loving her along the way. She was a second mother and someone I hold very close in my heart. She NEVER once gave up on her. Never ONCE. She is a teacher who understands the gift that these children are to the world, teaching lessons of love and perseverance every single day.
Then there is Miss Hye who is Miss Betsy’s right hand gal. She with the artists heart worked with Miss courtney to overcome her aversion to being touched eventually getting her to allow staff to move Courtney’s hands and legs freely. Courtney no longer resists peoples touch and it’s because of Miss Hye. Then there are the paintings. these beautiful works of art made by the hands of these special kids. Courtney smiled each time her hands were in paint enjoying the feeling of freedom in her hands as Miss Hye directed her through each painting.
Along with Miss Hye there is Miss Maria whose smile lights up a room. She fed Courtney every single day for five years. She worked with her on her walking in the gait trainer, she helped her with her personal care and she always made sure Miss Courtney’s curls were fluffed and beautiful.
These three women cared for my daughter every day. They loved her and took great pains to make sure she knew she was loved. My heart just overflows with love for these special women. I have no idea how Miss courtney and I will go forward without them in our daily lives. I miss them already and I know Miss Courtney does. Mama can’t be three people but I sure will try.
There was the support staff of Andrea, Nancy, Rita, Ava. These women taught her how to bowl, how to run her fingers across the chimes and how to color outside the lines. Miss Laurie, the school nurse, was always there right away to assist whenever Courtney was in distress. She never panicked and was and incredibly strong witness to this Mama that everything happens for a reason, so just embrace it.
Along with the incredible classroom staff, there is her therapy team of Lou, Alex, Maggie and Carla. Each of them contributed to the daily work Miss Courtney did to make her body strong and capable. They cheered her on as learned new skills. They held her when she fell, when she didn’t have anymore strength left to stand or sit. They were always there for my girl.
As a substitute teacher I had the privilege of working in different classrooms with different teachers and staff over the past four years. These individuals have all placed a hand print on my heart. They have made me laugh and held my hand when it was a really bad day. Courtney’s schoolmates taught me that love comes in all different shapes, sizes, mental and physical abilities aside. These kids are AWESOME wether they speak or not. Wether they walk or not. They do there best each day to contribute to their world and they do it well.
So later today we will say goodbye to this special place. It breaks my heart to leave this community that has served us so well. But we know it is the right time for our girl to come home, rest and get strong. A compromised immune system is a difficult thing when dealing with the constant exposure to germs. It is not the path I would have chosen but then none of this is. It is the path that Our Lord has chose for us and our job os to follow as best we can.
So we begin anew Miss Courtney and her Mama. Homeward bound for adventures that we haven’t even thought of yet.
Thank You Kilmer Center for being an extension of our family, for loving our Courtney as much as we do and for always being the shelter in the storm.
May each of you be blessed for the work you do every single day…thank you form the bottom of our hearts.
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