Now that Marisa has reached two years of age Elaine has gone back to Nursing part time teaching at the Community College in Greenfield.The rule of thumb is the first one home picks up the children and prepares dinner. The days of the Italian guy merely taking out the garbage have ended, and I love being this involved. We are most fortunate in that we have found an amazing day care program on the grounds of Smith College. Maggie the head of the Nonotuck program is phenomenal …with the children, and has incorporated some adults with handicapping conditions into her staff. One day John and Sophie a person of thirty five years old were looking at some books and John said to her “My Mommy and Daddy read to me but I don’t know how to read.” Sophie simply replied “I don’t know how to read either.” With that they kept turning the pages and mutually enjoying the drawings.
Work at the University and across the state has been increasingly rewarding. We appear to be making headway with some faculties, and the growth in our staff members has been remarkable. They are giving voice to the desires of parents and children, and making the law personal to educators. It is their dedication and willingness to try and alter generations of exclusion that drives them day in and day out. Some of the strongest supporters across the state have been classroom teachers because they feel that we have not merely blamed them for the lack of services. It is imperative that judgment be the least of our concerns, and the welfare of the students and the faculty be always at the forefront of our efforts.
In addition to the skills and experiences we possess as a staff the people who have been in this struggle forever are invaluable. One of our greatest assets is Chris Palames who has an amazing effect on educators when he shares, not only his story but the experiences of the countless kids with handicapping conditions that he has counseled. There is always that poignant moment after his presentation when someone in the audience shouts a question at him. Without any anger and a touch of humor Chris always responds from his wheelchair. “My ears work fine it is my legs that are not operational.” It is such a privilege to have him as a friend and colleague and I have learned many positive lessons from him.