“As a mom you always have hopes for your children. You hope they are healthy, safe, and loved. As they enter school you hope they are successful, make friends and are respectful and respected. Feeling safe in a school setting is something most parents also hope for but feel it is a given since they are surrounded by adults and an environment set up for safety.
When you’re a mom of a child with special needs, especially when that need happens to surround anxiety issues, safety becomes a necessity. When a child feels anxious everything is scary. A classroom full of new students, a substitute teacher, a fire drill, and many unpredictable moments that are just a part of school life are just a few examples. When we discovered how severe our son’s needs were we honestly couldn’t help but alter our hopes a bit. Achieving high grades was no longer as important as just getting him to stay in the classroom. Making many friends changed to hoping he would get invited to at least one birthday party and be able to be brave enough to go. Being respectful became hoping the school and students would be understanding and see the rude behaviour as a reaction to fear. And finally to be respected meant to be liked for who he was, as he was and respect his need for space and time.
We enrolled our boys in the fall of 2013 liking the smaller class sizes and the feeling of an intimate community. Devereaux was instantly accommodating to our son’s needs and was flexible and understanding. As parents of a child with special needs, sometimes our voice is not heard amongst the barrage of professionals that share their advice. But Devereaux not only heard our voices, they acted and made the entire experience painless. The principal, Ms Catchpole is knowledgeable, caring, and her love of her job radiates in all that she does. Mrs Thede, our son’s teacher treated him with empathy and respect. Mrs Sipple, the aide allocated to him immediately got to know our son on a level only a mother could know. The open communication with all staff is relished and appreciated. Not only are the front line staff incredible but every teacher there strives to get to know our son and help him to achieve his goals.
The hopes that we had altered? At Devereaux, not only were these achieved but the original ones came back on the table. They were not only met but surpassed. Our son, who had to be coaxed, coerced, bargained with and yes sometimes dragged to school not just liked school but LOVED it. We had to cancel therapy appointments because he didn’t want to miss days. He brags about all his friends and not only are they his friends they advocate for him and keep him feeling safe. If rude behaviour surfaced, they saw it as a sign that something was scaring him and made him feel safe rather than wrong.
Devereaux gives out awards to students who demonstrate Habits of the Heart. It is Devereaux themselves that should receive highest honors. They show Curiosity in their students by finding out what they need in order to learn. They show Integrity by respecting their students and practicing ethical teaching methods. They exude Empathy in all manners when dealing with the students of their school. Reflection is shown when they come across a problem and communicate with each other collectively to solve it. Finally, they show Self-Confidence in gaining knowledge in order to be the best little rural school any parent would be proud to say the are a part of.”
– Patti McDougall
“Devereaux Elementary School has been a part of my life since I went there myself as a child. I really wanted my children to attend the safe, steadfast environment that I grew up with. Everything from the staff to the amenities offered make Devereaux Elementary the place to enroll. They have a very active Parent Advisory Council that is always fundraising and working with staff to come up with exciting experiences for the children. The brand new playground, and social area for children to use during outside instruction or for play are amazing. They have extra curriculum activities such as volleyball and basketball that are not offered at other schools. Not to mention the exposure to the French language and music (band) that are often excluded in other primary schools. The overall atmosphere is friendly, and the first thing a parent notices when walking into the school is the smiling faces and enthusiastic greetings from the students”
-Naomi Skopnik (Parent of Grade one student)