Rising to the Challenge: An Inspiring Visit with Leon County Schools in Florida
And first off, a huge thanks to Chelsea F. Johnson (@thechelseaf on Twitter) of Leon County Schools for sharing not only the photo above, but the fun video clip from my performance that’s over to the right ... it's a little tribute to my mom on those occasions my brother and I used to push her to the brink of "losing it." I'm sure many educators out there have been driven to experience that precarious state of mind once or twice. 😄
But back to Leon County. It was an inspiring visit with Amber Mitchell and the entire Leon County School District. These spirited and talented professionals teach in a Title 1 district where more than 85% of the kids receive free lunch. I’m sure most of the families struggle to make ends meet, but are lucky to have such a dedicated group of educators and administrators on their side, in the most undervalued profession in the US.
Title 1, for those who don't know the lingo, is the largest federally funded educational program. The basic principle of Title 1 is that schools with large concentrations of low-income students will receive supplemental funds to assist in meeting students' educational goals.
So the truth is that these teachers are working in less than optimal infrastructure. But they seem to like the challenge of working with challenged kids, for which they have my unwavering respect and admiration.
One more side note: Florida is one of the states that still doesn’t recognize dyslexia as a condition worthy of an IEP (Individualized Education Plan). Which is so insane, I can’t shake my head hard enough or BOLD SCREAM LOUD ENOUGH!!! THIS MUST CHANGE YESTERDAY.
When a child with dyslexia gets an IEP, that means they get a reading coach plus services that literally will alter the rest of that child's life. Why should this be so hard to understand or difficult to accomplish? We all know that "reading is fundamental" ... it's one of the basic building blocks for success not only in education but in life. So let's make sure all kids get access to that all-important block.
Okay, I'll stop ranting before I start to "lose it." 😉 But thanks again to all the teachers who are making a difference in challenging circumstances, everywhere.