This is my third year here at TCS, and let me tell you, I wouldn’t have wanted to spend this time anywhere else! Having come from a background in the public school system, this environment is what I’ve always dreamed about (but at the time did not know existed) for some of my students who were ignored because of being labeled “too difficult” to deal with. I remember the ones who were heavily medicated, sitting in the same spot ALL day and staring at the wall. And a four year old who was in anger management because he could not get his words out in time so would lash out at other children in frustration. Although I was a substitute, and had no training in or knowledge of DIR/Floortime, I knew that acceptance, acknowledgment, and empathy would go a long way. For the brief two week period I would be at a specific school, the teachers would always respond that they’ve never seen little “Timothy” be so well behaved.
Even so, these experiences drained me and left me frustrated; many days I would come home in tears. My heart was broken seeing these small children who were pushed aside and ignored. These children had no one in their corner, fighting for them, supporting them, giving them a voice, or more importantly, helping them find their own voice. Finding TCS brought tears of a different kind to my eyes, and I wanted to be a part of this amazing community so badly that I did not care if I was in the classroom or in the administration office (where I am now). Just to say I am part of a team that brings such positive changes to the lives of individuals and families is an honor and privilege of unimaginable proportions. Seeing the growth in our students and participants, in even the (seemingly) littlest of ways, is like seeing them move mountains.
I often find myself thinking of past students, wondering how their lives would have been had they had a learning environment like this. What if they had been set up to succeed instead of to fail? What if they had been looked at as an individual, instead of being compared to other children around them? What does TCS mean to me? It means acceptance, acknowledgment, and empathy.
Just one experience before leaving you:
Towards the end of my first school year working at TCS one of our more animated students rushed into the office at the end of the day and yelled “see ya later Stephanie!” and took off. It left me shocked as this is the FIRST time he had acknowledged me since I started, even using my name. It was as if I had been invited to be part of the most exclusive club. It swelled my heart with pride that he opened his world to me, even if it was in the smallest of ways. To this day he still stops by my office to say good morning, see ya later, or sometimes both. Every time it brings a smile to my face, and for a brief moment my heart fills with pride, just as it did the very first day he acknowledged me.
What does TCS mean for some of our students and participants? Take a look for yourself…
– Stephanie Solomon