Happy Spring Break! As a reminder next week is spring break and their will be no school until students return on Monday, March 19th. I want to start this newsletter by thanking everyone who came out and supported Lee Live this past Saturday! It was such an amazing night. A tremendous thank you to Tanya Hamlin and Snow White who led the effort to make this such a successful fundraiser for our Roadrunners. Thanks to Courtney Mauro Barker and Summer Messer for compiling our incredible silent auction. Piper Stege Nelson, our PTA Sponsorship chair who has overseen so many fundraising efforts throughout the year and managed our sponsorships. Carey Hyde for handling tickets and event support. Susannah B Hollinger, for wrangling the grade level artwork that turned out so well. Rudy Bellg for managing our graphic designs from the signs, banners, programs, tickets and much more. Mathew Hamlin for technical support and being such a partner in the effort. Finally, I’d like to thank our PTA leadership duo, Beth Reyburn and Sara Bircher. Like countless events through the course of the year, they were there lending a hand and leading the way from the start until the very end. I cannot thank them enough for continuing to lead by example in so many ways.
We are undertaking a number of reviews to look at school safety and ways to improve transportation to and from school for our Roadrunners. Many of you may have noticed our crossing guard supervisor who was monitoring the intersection of Harris and Hampton this week. Our crossing guard Mable does a great job on behalf of our children and is a beloved member of our Lee Family. Please help her keep everyone safe by properly utilizing the crosswalk and arriving in plenty of time, so students do not need to rush in their final approach to the school. We are working with other agencies to identify necessary improvements in our safe routes to school. I will share more information as it becomes available, including efforts to have a crosswalk added on Red River near the intersection with Harris Avenue.
Each year we share what is known as our Campus Report Card from the Texas Education Agency. Federal Report Cards for the state, the district, and each of the district’s campuses are now available through the TEA website and you can access our campus specific report card here. If you have difficulty accessing the information from the website, hard copies of the reports are available in the office. If you have questions about the information, please feel free to contact me. We will review and discuss the Campus Report Cards at the next CAC Meeting on Tuesday, March 20th.
Lastly, I want to share the latest installment of our We Are Lee series, profiling different members of our Lee Family. This installment of this ongoing series from Clayton Maxwell profiles Lee parent, Norma Alejo and her experience with our special education program here at Lee.
Do you know about Lee’s SBS program? I’ve been a parent here for 7 years and barely had a clue….until I sat down with a Lee mom last week. Norma Alejo filled me in on her son’s experience with Mr. McIntyre and his team who run Lee’s Social Behavior Skills (SBS) program. Norma, who transferred her son here for the SBS, helped me better understand the learning that goes on in those classrooms near the library. Below, she explains how they got to Lee, why they are staying and what it’s like to parent a bright son who struggles with ADHD.
We Are Lee: How did you and your son come to Lee?
Norma: We were at another school that had an SBS program, but one day I got a letter advising me that they were ending their SBS, and I had to choose between two other schools, and one of them was Lee. I liked the downtown location and even though it’s far from where we live, they got a bus to come out to him. As soon as he started Lee, I noticed the changes right away. Maybe 2 or 3 weeks after he started I had to come to the school for one of his outbursts. He has four instructors here in the SBS program, and it was the way I saw them interact with him… He was in one of those rages and I saw the teacher sitting on the floor with her shoes off calmly speaking to him. He was angry and not listening to her. But she kept calm and eventually got him calm. She got him to get up on his own, pick up the mess he’d made and calmly walk to his desk. I was in tears. My jaw dropped because usually the way they would have to calm him down at his other schools was put him in a bear hug, a hold. It’s something they can do at Lee, too, it’s protocol, but at his old school it was something they would automatically jump to. But at Lee they took it a whole different route. So I knew that day that I wanted to keep him at Lee no matter what. I’ll never forget that. I can still see her there sitting barefoot with him on the floor.
We Are Lee: How has it gone since then?
Norma: Every time I check in with Mr. McIntyre, I hear nothing but good things. Alex transitioned into the general class before we even expected him, whereas before he couldn’t. He has a thing where he doesn’t want to sit still, ADHD kids, you know, don’t want to focus, they get bored and get themselves in trouble. So being in the general class never worked before. Now he’s going on his first field trip. And he has NOT stopped talking about it he’s so excited…When we had to move in with some family over on Rutland, I talked to Mr. McIntyre and Mr. Hewlett and they immediately arranged for a bus to come get him out on Rutland. He does have to wake up at 5:30am but that little boy pops up, gets ready for school. He’s just happy to stay at Lee. I do not think I can find another school that finds alternatives to the bear hug hold, that can calmly talk to him. Because that’s how I deal with him at home—I talk to him with respect, like an adult; I’m not going to be aggressive.
We Are Lee: How did you know your son had ADHD?
Norma: Well, I didn’t want to accept it. We are Hispanic, so…we kind of just ignore mental issues and that’s how at first I was. But after my divorce I had to come to terms with the fact that I have depression, so when I had to deal with mine, it helped me face what my son was going through. It was hard, all the testing, and his dad would say ‘My son’s not crazy,’ and I said, ‘You are not there to deal with it. You haven’t been getting all the calls from the schools, police officers, CPS.’ Now Alex has a therapist who goes to Lee to meet with him, he used to see him once or twice a week, but Alex is able to do stuff on his own now. It’s gotten a lot easier. I completely honestly think that him going to Lee has been what’s accelerated his ability to manage his ADHD. I will keep him there until 6th grade, if it’s ok with Lee, of course.
We Are Lee: What are ways you can tell he’s managing it?
Norma: At the end of 1st grade at his old school, they had a program and all the kids had to go onstage to sing a song or something and he wasn’t having it. He threw a rage in front of the whole school. It was rough. He ran off the stage screaming and I had to go after him with the whole school watching. He just couldn’t be in front of people.
At Lee, though, for that Moana (Hawaii) program, each kid had to say a little something, and he actually kept his calm, memorized his line, and said it in front of all those people. I was in tears. I wish I could remember his line to keep it forever in my mind. My other son looked at me and said, Mommy?” and I said, “Let me have this moment!” Afterwards Mr. Hewlett came and introduced himself. I knew he had been a specialist in SBS education before, and I told him, “What did you do? How did you get him to talk in front of this whole school? That was not possible two years ago.” That was one of those moments—Mr. Hewlett was in it with me. We were both so happy. The ADHD is going to follow him his whole life. But if Lee is able to do all that in a year, forget about it, this is where he needs to be.
Have a wonderful spring break,
Russell Lee Elementary School