A Mother’s Peace

by Mailin Z.
March 2012

“I initially visited A Better Chance School was about three and a half years ago accompanied by the school’s senior director. After forty-five minutes of touring the campus with some brief conversations with the teachers and their assistants, the school psychologist, and students, I stepped outside and walked toward my car and I recall a feeling of excitement. It was as if someone had inscribed “hope” on the door handles.

Having visited dozens of special education schools, some hundreds of miles from the Bay Area, one distinguishing word that came to the top of my list was “teamwork”.

What I saw in A Better Chance School was that the entire school, including the parents and students, worked as a team. Everyone, from the top management to the classroom teachers, the specialists and the students, unanimously gave me an impression that each of them was quite comfortable and even confident about contributing to this team. What really amazed me were the students: some were working at their desks; some were in the front of computers; or in the physical education room; or even cooking in the kitchen. One class was preparing to go for out to a field trip: everyone seemed very calm and organized. This was a much different scene than the schools I had visited previously.

My second impression was that the relationships among everyone at this campus were much more like a family than a restricted institution. The harmony and warmth have to be experienced in person. My son Phillip was much happier after he started attending A Better Chance School. Prior to ABC School, every time Phillip heard the word “school”, he would literally drop his favorite food (even chocolate chip cookies) or whatever he was doing and then walk away. Today I can say the word “school” without caution. I can ask him, “Phillip, what did you do at school today?” or “How was the music class?” or “Did you have a lot of fun at swimming pool?”  Even though Phillip is not always able to answer my questions directly, I have seen the joy in his eyes. And from my son’s joy that I find a mother’s peace.

Phillip has attended A Better Chance School for three and a half years. Personally, I noticed that there was a big attitude change with me: I used to make excuses as frequently as I could that there were doctors’ appointments, visiting grandparents, family vacations and so on just to keep Phillip out of school. Today, we go to great lengths so Phillip does not miss one day school – all appointments must be after school hours.

At the end of the 2011 school year at the teacher and parents meeting, Phillip’s teacher, Dr. Edith Molinier, told me that we needed to get Phillip an iPad to use as a speech tool. I will never forget what Dr. Edith said to me that day, “I want to teach ALL my students to use an iPad, and give them a lifelong skill before they leave this school”. I tried very hard to hold my tears back. As a mother I knew how great challenge this was going to be. However, with Dr. Edith and everyone on her team’s efforts, in eleven months of hard work and complete devotion Phillip is now able to operate his iPad by himself. He makes it a point to bring it with him anywhere we go.

In conclusion, it is one of my wishes that all the special education schools in this country will have the values like A Better Chance School.”