Yo soy La Lay

adventures in family, faith, and Down syndrome

Dear Brooke

Dear Brooke,

I didn’t know if it was happening anywhere… and then I walked into your classroom.

Ceramics 1, Gen Ed Elective.

Fully including a handful of our students with the highest of needs.

I try to keep my own life from taking center stage in my career, but Girlfriend, my heart grew leaps and bounds that day.  This little group of students, who many would believe cannot learn at any sort of valuable level… these kids weren’t just sitting in the corner making pinch pots while their typical peers advanced through the art curriculum.

They were critiquing art.

This was the first time I had really seen a teacher at the high school level successful accommodate students with significant learning needs without watering down the content.  And with all your preps and coaching responsibilities and outside coursework on top of teaching, you still took the time to really think about how to serve these students in your classroom.  These kids were artists and critics and a part of the class like any other.

I think my favorite part of this observation was when we chatted afterwards and I told you how awesome you did with that group.  You were totally modest and actually a little perplexed as to why this would be so extraordinary.

Thanks for showing me how possible it is, and for being the first of many awesome teachers that I have had the chance to observe just being inclusive because duh, why wouldn’t we be? I’m so thankful to have you on our team.


This is part of the 31 for 21 Blog Challenge – blogging every day for the the 31 days of Down Syndrome Awareness month.  To find out more about the challenge, and to see other blogs participating, click here.

This year’s theme has been inspired by the Down Syndrome Diagnosis Network’s #deardoctor campaign.  To see more #deardoctor letters, visit their Facebook page here.

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Ten… A developing story

This is my tenth year teaching.

I need to let that sink in a little bit.  It overwhelms me.  No, seriously.  I said it out loud today and I didn’t believe myself.  So I counted on my fingers to make sure.

I’m sure.  (Big gulp)

People who have taught longer than me will tell me that time flies, the years go faster, yadda yadda.  I know, ok?  I know.  It’s like telling a pregnant lady that if she thinks she is tired now, just wait until the baby comes.  

Some things are better left unsaid.

In my role as a division head, I only teach one class.  I spent the past two years working in our program for very academically at-risk students.  This year, I get to teach a class of Spanish again.  And so, on top of my minor freak-out about this being my TENTH year, I am also freaking out that holy cow, I have to remember how to teach Spanish.  I feel ready, but… I don’t know, nervous!

The first day of school is my absolute favorite.  I love the rush of the new kiddos, finding lockers, lost little freshmen, sharpening pencils, new outfits, old friends… It makes my heart swell every. time.  A year fresh and full of possibilities – it is the best.  And those nerves…. a thousand little butterflies ready to soar.

This year, I have been reflecting on where I will focus my energy, about how I will continue to develop in my roles in the building, but also in life in general.  It’s so funny, it’s like this new house has brought a sense of settling to life – things are still chaotic and ever-changing, but it feels stable, like I can breathe and think and do.

Part of my nerves, and oddly, part of my settling, is a song lyric that has been stuck in my brain for about two weeks now.  I think about it over and over, and then I pray about it, and wrestle with what it might mean.  I can’t get it out.  And with my tenth year gearing up to go, it just repeats and repeats…

“Every time somebody lives to serve and not be served…”

That’s it.

The message is clear as a bell.  There is no denying that.  How that serving looks in my world gives me much to consider, and certainly reflection on those times when I am living to be served merit reflection as well.  I can easily point to the others around me who I feel are demanding to be served, but this isn’t about them – it’s about me, and about a lyric that, in this tenth year, when life would seem to be settled, somehow is my driving force for change.






Live to serve and not be served.

This is a developing story.  More from the field as it becomes available.

To listen to the full song from which this lyric comes, see below:

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