Their Quiet Warfare
We were back in Oklahoma
and it was Monday morning. I found myself looking up at the steep steps
into East Junior High where Rhonda was to attend the Special Education
"Come on Rhonda, hang
tough!" I was warning her of what was going to happen with the steps.
"There has to be a
method, here." I spoke aloud to her. "Maybe just mind over matter."
The steps were not deep
enough to allow me to rest between them. It was necessary to pull the
chair backward up the steps since this angle would prevent Rhonda from
being dumped out of the front of the chair. I discovered if I pulled the
chair one step at a time, counted to four while completely relaxing my
back and leg muscles I could then make the next step. In this manner we
bumped, bumped along all the way to the top.
When I entered the
classroom with Rhonda I realized that unlike Plano this was a class
completely isolated from the other students. Rhonda wouldnít be a part
of this total academic process but would be totally hidden away in this
room far from the "normal" students.
"I feel like Don Quixote
challenging windmills this morning," I laughed and spoke to the friendly
"I know what you mean."
The petite little woman,
had the features of a strong tribe in Africa I once studied and as if to
match her ancestorís will she was in complete control of this rowdy
class of teenagers. Every disability was penned up here in this place
and they all seemed angry about that. Two of the boys were exchanging
blows with their fists to each otherís shoulders. I believed the teacher
could have spent most of her time with discipline and as if to answer my
thoughts she spoke to the culprits who were big enough to do real
physical damage to one another.
"Thatís enough of that
boys. I sure would hate to have to send two boys to the office this
early in the morning." The delicate looking little woman was anything
The boys stopped their
quiet warfare, glared at her, at me and then at Rhonda. With no more
physical contact each took their places at a desk but not without a
shuffling of feet and rustling of paper and other little bits of
physical activity to show their rebellion.
The teacher must have
seen my insecurity in having to leave Rhonda in such a place and she
immediately reassured me.
"Boys!" Their teacher
noted. "Just their way of getting acquainted. As long as they donít hurt
each other I have to ignore them."
"Donít worry about
Rhonda. I have Ms. Fisher here as an aide. She will be with Rhonda at
Ms. Fisher was Native
American woman and even though I didnít know her personally I knew her
family. There was a history of their strength of character and
intelligence. Certainly, I felt secure with the knowledge that she would
be available to help my daughter.
Every day the step were a
new challenge but we kept at it, while jerking the chair over one
obstacle of a step at a time until we reached the top .
The brave little teacher
tried in vain to get a ramp built but her efforts went unnoticed. Today,
and I donít really know when it was put there, a long cement ramp stands
on one side of the school. I donít know if the children are still kept
apart from the rest of the students. Special Education had become a kind
of punishment at least this was the way students looked at it. Shut off
like this made them a kind of spectacle and they felt less than the