Saturday, June 6, 2015

Celebrating a Special Teacher

Every week, Ruth Ayres over at Discover. Play. Build. invites people to share celebrations from their week.  Please visit and consider linking up your own celebration. 

Thanks to Ruth for providing a platform for me to share my big and small celebrations. 

   This week I would like to take a minute to celebrate and recognize some very special people. If you visit often, you're probably aware that I have a nine year old son who has autism. He is about to transition from his primary school to a school, where he has been for four years, to the intermediate school across town. 
    When TJ was leaving his developmental preschool to enter our public school with over 800 students, I was worried. I was worried about his safety in such a large building. I was worried that the staff would not love and care for him as much as they did in preschool. Fortunately, the transition was very smooth, mostly because of his new special education teacher, Jody Colangelo, his paraprofessionals and his many dedicated and skilled therapists. They know him very well and take every step necessary to make sure he is learning and safe. At each meeting and in every interaction with them, it is clear how much they care about TJ.  
   He has had three paraprofessionals that have worked with him one-on-one since he arrived. They have all been wonderful. Mrs. Priscilla Gilman has been his one-on-one support for the last three years. Other than my husband and myself, no one knows TJ better than Mrs. Gilman. She can get him to do things that he will not do with us at home. She works incredibly hard to make sure that he not only progresses academically, by attends to his communication needs, personal needs and safety. 
  Since he cannot tells us what he has done during his school day, Mrs. Gilman writes us a note every day in his notebook. These notes make us feel connected to the school and help us to know what his days are like. Now we have a chronicled record of his development that we treasure. Most importantly, Mrs. Gilman just loves him. She loves him when he is sweet (which most of the time), and she loves him when he hits her, shows his stubborn side or has a meltdown. The feeling is very mutual. TJ loves Mrs. G and is eager to go to school each day. It has given us great peace of mind as parents to send our boy to school each day and know that he is so well cared for. 

   Mrs. Gilman is retiring at the end of the school year. How do you thank someone who has played such an integral part of raising your child? "Thank you" does not seem like enough. We are so appreciative for all that she has done for TJ and consider her to be part of our family. 

 Thank you Mrs. Gilman!


  1. This post is a sincere and heartful thank you letter. I hope Mrs. Gilman gets to read this. I wish that the people in new school will be equally loving and helpful to support TJ. Beautiful celebration.

  2. This is such a nice tribute to someone who has been an integral part of your lives. I hope you share this with Mrs. Gilman. As your son moves on to his new school, I hope you are able to find other teachers that will love and support him as well as they have in his previous schools.

  3. How lovely this post felt. I know you are so wonderful and so, by extension, I assume TJ is probably pretty fabulous. I'll bet Mrs. Gilman got as much from him as he got from her. I hope his transition is smooth and joyful.

  4. Our paraprofessionals are special people indeed. So glad that your son was able to enjoy such continuity and support. Here's to a smooth transition and more people who will love TJ.

  5. Wow. I can imagine how you are struggling to find a way to thank Mrs. Gilman - I can't even find the words to comment on this post. It made me teary. As a teacher, I know how deep connections can be with students we spend every day with. As a parent, I know what it feels like to see in someone else's eyes that they adore your child too. Very precious. It sounds like Mrs. Gilman has been a huge part of your lives and most deeply, TJ's everyday world. Oh - I give up - I am just going to sit and cry. A beautiful post Gigi.

  6. What a lovely post. What a comfort for you and TJ all these years. I can't even imagine the trust you must place have had to place in his teachers. I wish you luck as you move on to this new place in his life.

  7. So lucky for your family, especially TJ, that this incredible person was part of your lives...i can see how she would be family.

  8. It's so wonderful that you've had such excellent support in TJ's school community. I can see how it would be difficult to express how thankful you are for that. I believe that TJ has likely been a blessing to her too. :)