Advertisement

Classroom reflections

February 23, 2009|By CLAUD KITCHENS

He was 5 years old, not much more than 3 feet tall - and he could not walk. As a ward of the state, he had spent most of his years as a bedridden patient.

The state transferred him from a metropolitan facility to one that was adjacent to a special education school. In a wheelchair, he could participate in most activities except those that required mobility in his legs.

After months of therapy, several members of the special-education staff decided he would learn to walk.

Entering the school one fall afternoon, I heard an inordinate amount of noise in one of the corridors. Curious about what was happening, I walked toward the source of the noise.

His arms straddled a set of parallel bars that had been adjusted for his height. A teacher was walking backwards in front of him, holding a spoon a few inches from his mouth. As he inched toward the spoon, staff members surrounding him cheered. After what seemed an eternity, he reached the end of the bars and was given his spoonful of Jell-o.

Advertisement

In the spring, I was invited by the principal to a classroom party. The boy was standing in the middle of the room, swaying to music. I took his hand in mine and we danced.

Every handicapped child is not going to attain these heights, but each one should have that opportunity.

Claud Kitchens, who passed away recently, was an educator for more than 35 years, retiring in 1990 as the deputy state superintendent of the Maryland State Department of Education. Prior to that, he was the superintendent of Washington County Public Schools. The Herald-Mail will continuing printing his reflections as long as we have previously unpublished material available.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|