I just wanted to send a note to some of the people who have made these past few years an absolute dream come true. Just a few words about our experience at Cleary with all of you wonderful humans.
Like most parents that had a child born with hearing loss, we had no idea until he was born.
“Not our kid, not my baby” I remember thinking. With little guidance about the rare condition my son had, I searched the internet and Facebook groups. Luckily a friend’s sister worked at Cleary and told us to connect with them right away.
Walking into that building when he was only 8 months old, I was filled with this sadness. Hysterically crying that my child HAD to go here, that my child was different as were the unknowns we had from his condition.
Poor Ms. Dawn, I don’t know if that’s what parents do typically, but I just cried and cried in the gym that day as the rest of the school was having a Halloween celebration. We found out shortly thereafter that our son needed a hearing aid (BAHA) as well as speech services and a Teacher of the Deaf.
PIP- Parent Infant Program
Working full time and not having any family locally, it was hard to get our son to school for his much-needed services. Luckily the staff worked with me, and I was able to leave work early once a week and have a class with Ms. Cindy, and sometimes music with Ms. Dawn. Later we got to know Ms. Kim and Ms. Tracy. I cried then too watching my little 8-month-old blossom into an almost 3-year-old who was given all the help in the world by the PIP staff. Not only was he ready for the 3-year-old program at Cleary, but he was also exceeding all our expectations. Shh doesn’t tell the district. I might be biased, but he was talking better than friends’ children we knew that didn’t have hearing conditions. PIP gave him the head start he needed, and we will be forever grateful.
3-Year-old Class- Ms. Margaret, Ms. Julie, and Ms. Taylor
My big boy hopped on a bus at the tender age of 3 and I cried.
Ms. Margaret and Ms. Julie were sure going to be a hard act to follow for the rest of his educational career I can tell you that much. Here James started to continue friendships with some of the kids from PIP and started to make new friends with some hearing role models and some new Cleary students. Here is where he met his first “real” friend Cooper, learned his ABCs, numbers, and probably just about everything else. James LOVED Cleary. He was so excited to go to “real” school every day. He felt like he was such a big boy. I know the teachers treated him like they were one of their own. The nervousness I thought I would feel sending him away all day disappeared almost immediately. As COVID descended upon us things changed for a while, God bless those teachers for staying on ZOOM with 8 screaming 3-year old’s. They deserved an award. A new normal began when we returned to school. Luckily James’ took it all in stride and I attribute that to the supportive staff at Cleary. Ms. Margaret and Ms. Julie, you were James’ first real teachers, and we will never forget you!
4-year-old Class- Ms. Theresa, Ms. Jamie, Ms. Erin, Ms. Melissa, Ms. Cassidy
My 4-year-old Pre-K kid hopped on the bus like it was no biggie. He waved and was off. We had all our old friends from the 3-year-old program and some new friends too. Watching James grow this year has been extraordinary. He comes home and tells us things we didn’t even know ourselves. This year has really shown us James’ personality as it came shining through. The thing I loved most about his teachers this year is how they embraced his budding personality and encouraged it. I really think James thinks he’s more friends with Ms. Theresa and Ms. Jamie than he should, but I love that. I know he is still a good listener and behaves in class but to know your child loves his teachers like they are his friends too makes it even more special.
Thank you, Ms. Katie, for being the best principal, so understanding and down to earth.
Thank you, Maddie, for being the backbone of the PSA and for all the hard work you do behind the scenes that no one will ever probably realize.
Thank you, nurse Stephanie for dealing with the fake tummy aches and Band-Aid requests.
Thank you, Jackie, for your passion and fighting for Cleary funding and recognition.
Thank you, Ms. Sarah, for being such a good friend to me and Cooper being such a good friend to James
Thank you, Pam, for your extraordinary knowledge and dedication.
Thank you, Mr. Ryan and Mr. Joe, for taking such good care of the school and being so sweet to the kids.
I know there are so many people I didn’t thank. Everyone at that school has touched James’ life forever.
Here we are on the night before school ends tomorrow and I’m crying. But I am crying now for the complete opposite reason I cried 4+ years ago. I don’t want James to leave Cleary EVER!
I know he must. I know that he was given the skills he needs to take on the world when he goes to kindergarten next year. Cleary is this amazing bubble of love and support.
Again, I know I am biased, but he is WAY smarter than any of the other kids we meet.
Did you know at his Kindergarten entrance evaluation, he took a long time and I got worried… he took so long because when he was asked to count (they wanted him to count to 10) he counted to 109! When my husband asked him why he stopped he said, “because my mouth got tired”.
He is so prepared not only in academics but in speech and social skills. I literally don’t want to stop writing because I don’t want this to be over. We LOVE Cleary. We LOVE every single staff member. We will never forget where James got his head start. You make a difference every single day to every single child in that school and thanking you will never be enough.
We love you!
Kaylyn, J.T. and James Reynolds