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October 2022 President's Message from Dr. Danielle Kovach

[image of a space in a classroom that is called the Calming Corner, with Hawaii themed decorations]

Oh, the joys of working in education! You experience the highs, lows, and everything in between in one day! And then you go back again the next day and ride the same emotional roller coaster! This week was a perfect example of that.

Student: My brother is home sick. His eyes are all red. My mom said he has gingivitis. Me:Ummm... Gingivitis? Do you mean Conjunctivitis???

Student: Hey, Mrs. Kovach, when will we learn about salami? Me: Do you want me to teach a lesson on salami?

Student: Yeah, you know, those big waves from the ocean. Me: Ummm... Salami? Do you mean tsunami???

Oh, those kiddos gave me a good laugh. But then, there was one student that made me so happy I wanted to cry with joy. My little "Lizzie" is one of those students with the world's weight on her shoulders, and the only way she can cope with her struggles is to wear an emotional suit of armor that no one can break through. Since the first day of school, my goal was to find a way around Lizzie's shield and get to the heart of this young lady.

During our math lesson, I watched as Lizzie grabbed her math paper, angrily scribbled on it with her pencil, and then tossed the worksheet to the ground. I knew it would be about 45 minutes of silence, and she would not talk to me or anyone else. The shield was up. I cautiously approached Lizzie and acknowledged that I could tell she was angry. Like in all past situations when this happened, I reassured her that I was there for her and that she could visit Hawaii if she needed to take a break. (Our calming corner is decorated like Hawaii. Who doesn't want to vacation in Hawaii and chill for a few minutes?)

Up until this point, Lizzie never used any of our calming tools; until today. She got up and went to Hawaii. I set the timer for five minutes, and when the timer went off, she returned to her seat, picked up her paper, and tried to erase the mess she had made. My jaw dropped!

I asked her if she would like to work on her math with me at the back table. She walked over, and I asked her why she had gotten so upset when she came over. "I can't do this work." Ahhh... success! She shared her feelings! I was so overwhelmed by the enormity of the situation that I had to fight the tears from flowing. We talked about what happened and how she could continue making those better choices in the future. 

I left her with four words, "I'm proud of you." And I truly meant it. How often do we tell others we are proud of what they achieved? Whether it is a student, colleague, teacher, administrator, or anyone we may work with. Sometimes just four simple words can make a difference in someone's life by giving them validation that their efforts are acknowledged, appreciated, and valued. I am so proud of our CEC members and volunteers. Your efforts make a difference in special education and the lives of individuals with disabilities. You inspire me every day! Thank you!

Posted:  27 October, 2022
Kovach Danielle
Author: Danielle M. Kovach, Ed.D.

Immediate Past President
Special Education Teacher
Tulsa Trail Elementary School
Hopatcong, NJ

Read more from Danielle M. Kovach, Ed.D.

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