Wednesday, September 28, 2011
It's Working Already
One thing I harped on repeatedly, while working with Rojo and Woohoo's high school to start a program for kids with learning differences, was the need for peer tutors. "Not just for the special learners, but for the peers themselves," I professed, as though I knew what the hell I was talking about.
I didn't have statistics. I didn't have facts. I had a knowing that what was good for Rojo, would be good for anyone helping Rojo. I guess I did have facts, I had 29 other kids that went through 1-8 grade with him, that I would say, without a doubt, are better for having done so.
So, I talked up peer tutors for years. I knew that Rojo would relish time with someone that was all about him, someone in his age bracket, someone "typical," someone that for a specified amount of time each day, got to leave their "normal" life and immerse themselves in neuro-diversity.
Blessedly, I didn't have much opposition, and a peer tutor program was developed. Rojo loves everything about his school and program, but by far, his favorite thing is the peer tutors.
Friday night STM, Rojo and I went together to the first home football game. Woohoo went too, separately, and spent the evening with her friends, which is all good and the way it should be. We were there about 20 minutes and some kid I'd never laid eyes on before came up to Rojo, plunked himself down, and began to "hang." Finally, I said, "Rojo? Would you please introduce us to your friend?"
Rojo did, and the young man (a senior) shook our hands warmly and firmly, using lots of ma'ams and sirs, before resuming his spot right next to Rojo on the bleachers. Later, when they were off at the Snack Shack, one of Rojo's teachers walked over to us, looking for Rojo. I explained where he was. "Oh, that's great. You'll love this story," she continued, "I asked all the peer mentors to write me a reflection piece, and that young man said that before this program began, he didn't have any intention of going to college, he thought maybe he'd join the Marines. Now, however, after working with Rojo and his classmates, he's decided what he wants to do with his life is be a special ed. teacher. He's found his calling."
And I can say, without hesitation, that yes, he has.