No, I don’t mean that facetiously. We are lucky. We are extremely lucky that we live where we do. For four years, we tried to sell our house so we could move to Eaton Rapids, where Eric teaches. It just didn’t make sense to us to have Eric driving forty five minutes each way every day to go to work when I wasn’t working. When we bought our house, I was working on the west side of Grand Rapids, so we decided to settle in Portland, the half way point between our two employers. Then, Tycen was born and we decided that I would stay home. For a few years, Eric made the trek without complaint every day. Then, we started thinking about school for Tycen and his sister, who I was pregnant for. We wanted them to go to school in the district that Eric taught in. It only made sense.
Then, Tycen started school in the Michigan Readiness Program when he was turning four. we decided to send him to Eaton Rapids with his dad. It was our intention to have all the children go to Eaton Rapids via school of choice until we could sell our house. But the economy and fate stepped in. Roman started the Early On program in Ionia County, which is for children birth to age 3. After that he graduated into Early Childhood Special education at the Portland School district. It took us only a few weeks to realize that there must have been divine intervention involved because Roman was truly in the right place.
I’ve mentioned Roman’s aide, or paraeducator, before, but that’s just the beginning of the support structure he has in place. Katie has an ASD (autism spectrum disorder) mentor who acts as a liaison between Katie and the intermediate school district. This mentor offers support to Katie in training her and working with Roman. This mentor has been very open with communication with me and keeps me abreast of all the new training Roman is receiving. She’s the one who sent me the video I posted yesterday. I’ve been told that Ionia County is the only county in Michigan that has such a structure and I can see the difference that it makes in Roman.
Not only does Portland have this unique structure within the Ionia Intermediate School District, but it also has an excellent Early Childhood Special Education teacher. I was a bit apprehensive as the year started, as the teacher was just hired for this school year. Another teacher had taught for a number of years and decided to move up to second grade. I had met the precious teacher and liked her. I just didn’t know who Roman was going to end up with. Within a few weeks, my fears were put to rest and I realized that Portland really knows how to hire teachers.
Then there are the therapists. Roman has excellent therapists that work with him throughout the school day. His speech therapist has been nothing but helpful with me and she is working wonders with Roman. The same could be said for his physical and occupational therapists. All of them are always willing to talk to me about concerns I have. They are all wonderful.
I was extremely apprehensive to put Roman in school full time, five days a week when the school year started. After all, my five year old was only going to half day kindergarten and Roman wasn’t even three when the year started. But here we are, over halfway through the year and I know that we, as an educational team, have made the right decision.
And that’s why I know, in my heart, that we could never sell our house. There were greater powers at work. All three of my children now attend Portland Schools and all are thriving.