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Never give up!

Title – Never give up!

By – Pat Thompson

Jim entered my first grade classroom in August. He could not speak in sentences, he did not know the alphabet, he could not write, and he appeared misplaced in a grade level too advanced for his needs. He had never been retained, and in my mind I was wondering why. He was a transfer student to our school.

After classroom placement testing, Jim and I began with learning to write his name, then playing Kindergarten alphabet games. Having taught Kindergarten previously for 13 years, I had background with where I needed to start. Jim became a frustrated child. His seating in the class was right at the end of my finger. Everything we did in the whole class, he did with me individually.

Then around Christmas, Jim found another child in the class he chose for his role model–Jack, the strongest boy I had in the class. Jack also took an interest in him. Eventually, Jim’s seating changed, next to Jack. Jack became his playmate. When we did classroom assignments, Jack helped Jim.

In March, I was fortunate to receive a natural born teacher as a student teacher. With her help, I became a tutor to Jim, and to my surprise, he began to read. He recognized 10 words, and could read books with those words. Then he began to spell those words. While everyone else was learning about kilometers in math, Jim and I worked on tying shoes. He did not even know how to cross the strings. But within an hour, Jim was tying. Jack said that he didn’t know how, so I gave Jim a shoestring and told him to tie a bracelet on Jack’s arm. He was very controlled with his movements.

May arrived. It was time to posttest. Jim could not read first grade words, but he could read 17 preprimer words. He read the second level dolch selection with only 3 mistakes. He wrote numerals successfully to 100 by 1′s, 5′s, and 10′s. The principal called him “a little success story”.

Jim won’t go to second grade, but he will have a better start to first. Hopefully with the foundation that has been built, this child will avoid any special placements in speech or assisted programs. He has been an inspiration to a teacher, student teacher, and a principal. And he talks—-nonstop, fluently in sentences.

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Pat Thompson

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