Grace’s third grade class How-To reports. Grace’s report is the green and gold PowerPoint.

Grace heads back to school tomorrow, our holiday break has flown by. This afternoon I tucked a book she received at school before break from a friend away on her bookshelf and thought about how excited Grace will be to back in the swing of things tomorrow.

This year at school Kevin and I have been so excited to find Grace’s work hung up in the hallway with the work of the rest of her 3rd grade regular ed class. Her being included on the wall a visual symbol of her inclusion in the class. At Grace’s conference this fall her teacher told us a few stories of how kids interact with Grace in her class. She also told us that no matter what she is teaching up front when Grace enters the room the class greets her, and when she exits the room they all say goodbye. She wasn’t mad about it in any way either. She more chuckled in acceptance that this is part of the class culture. I saw this in action when I helped at Grace’s holiday party. The “happy holidays” as Grace left the room at the end of the party was so loud. My eyes filled with tears for just a second as we picked up scraps of snowman craft and wrapping paper.

At conferences the teacher mentioned just casually how their class operates as a family. She said that they often talk about how Grace has perseverance. That she has things to overcome, but keeps going. Along with perseverance Grace has brought conversations to the classroom about patience. They have evidently talked about the fact that all through their lives classmates will encounter people who don’t move and think quickly as they would like. Patience isn’t just a kid skill, it’s one grown-ups need to work on too.

When she asks for volunteers to read to Grace she always has too many hands raised.

A few of the girls in her class just that day had turned in stamps that they had earned for positive behavior in order to have the opportunity to help another class. They had asked specifically to come and be with Grace in the special ed room.

I don’t mean to romanticize inclusion, or Grace, or anything by writing any of this. I’m not always even 100% sure about how I feel about inclusion or even if I know what “right” inclusion looks like.

What I do know, because the teacher told me, is that Grace’s “how-to” topic, (the title of this post) was selected for her by her classmates because there was a classroom discussion about what her how-to topic should be. They landed on the idea that Grace makes them smile. I took the picture included with the blog because I was so delighted to see her power point how-to up on the wall with all the hand-written how-to’s.

I am happy to know that Grace brings a smile to the face of some of her classmates. I am happy to know that she is a member of that family. I am happy that her work is on the wall.

We tried to thank the teacher. We tried to tell her that we know she sets the tone and that we are grateful for the tone that she’s set. It’s a difficult gratitude to convey. I’m so hopeful that she got it, even a little, because being on the wall, part of the family, is in actuality a very big deal.