Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sharing life and sharing the road

city streets of Fremont, IN
Today was a wonderful day...I went to Fremont, my former hometown and home of my great post office lady who is holding my mail for me, and Angola, IN to visit school friends. I went around the school's lunch time which ended up being one of the most positive experiences of my life and a very meaningful one for me. You see, when you are a special ed. teacher, especially an old school one like myself, (when separation from the regular kids was the norm and the special ed. teacher was separate from the staff as well-- that was the case for many years,) you are used to the kids looking the other way when you walk down the hall and say hi because they don't want to be associated with the "sped" teacher. For many years it was like that. With inclusion, with most special ed kids now being mainstreamed in general ed. classes, the blending of special ed. and "normal" is a much blurrier line. It's one of the great things about inclusion---kids have learned to be more accepting of each other's differences. Today I walked into my old school, Angola Middle School, and I saw two boys I worked with last year...one of my special ed boys, and one boy (not special ed.) I tutored after school on a regular basis. They broke into a big mutual grin...The first thing out of their mouths was, "MRS. SPARKS! Are you coming to lunch? Come and sit at our table. We'll save you a place!" I said, "You bet!" I about fell over. For special ed. kids to invite me to come sit at their table for lunch, in front of their regular ed. peers, about made me tear up.

Ropchan Nature Trail
It was really great! The table was a mixed bunch of kids, some of my special ed. boys who could alternately make you pull your hair out one day, and  make you want to take them home with you the next, and regular ed. kids. There were a couple of girls there that I didn't work with who gave me just as warm a welcome as my former students. The boys were eager to tell me who of my former students was in trouble this year as 8th graders, and who was getting  the good grades. A couple of students wanted my Facebook information and my email so they could write. It was just a wonderful, wonderful feeling to know that they weren't ashamed to be seen with me, and we just had a great lunch together. I will hold that wonderful memory inside me for a very long time.....After lunch I visited my favorite hiking trail, the Ropchan Nature Preserve in Fremont. I went for a two mile hike and saw a really big doe while hiking the beautiful trails thru meadows, forest, and prairie grass habitat. I always see deer when I hike there. Then I headed back home to where Eldy was "holding down the fort" till I got back. Here's why I titled the blog what it is today....

The reason I mention sharing the road is because today I saw something very upsetting on the way back to Goshen...when you think of sharing the road, you think of watching out for motorcycles, and bicycle riders. But in Amish country, you have to think about the Amish riding bikes along the side of the road, and the many open wagons and traditional black closed in buggies that are pulled by horses. On the way home from school today, passing through Shipshewanna, I stopped for my favorite pretzels at JoJo's. Just as I got back on my way and close to the intersection to turn onto US 20, I just missed witnessing a car hit a horse drawn buggy. From what I could tell, the car hit the horse, the horse was down writhing on the ground, the Amish women in the buggy were consoling the horse, and the man who had hit the horse was coming towards the buggy to talk to them. The people in the buggy appeared to be ok. The horse appeared to be badly hurt. Had I not stopped for pretzels, I probably would have been a witness to the sad accident. The buggies have orange triangles on the back, and blinking lights, but the horses can be skittish around traffic, and so there is always the possibility that the unexpected might happen. It was an upsetting reminder today to be extra vigilant when driving around in Amish country......

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