Acceptance, by Loreli Stochaj

I had been teaching first grade for a number of years and a former parent was doing a remarkable thing. Her family was taking in a child from the Dominican Republic who needed surgery on her leg. The child’s leg had not formed correctly and probably needed to be amputated. The parent wanted the child to attend school until she was ready to return home. This was to be about six months. First the parent went to the Board of Education and asked if it was at all possible for this young girl to attend school. The Board Office told her yes but the child would be considered a visiting student and would basically receive no extra help but could come to our school. Let me tell you about this child. Her name was Lupe and she had never really attended school of any sort. Her family was very poor. She spoke only Spanish and she used a crutch. The principal called the first grade teachers into her office to explain the situation. We all had some questions. We all left her office to think about it. After thinking about for about a minute I went back to the principal and said I would love to have Lupe in my class for the rest of the year. I thought everyone could benefit from her being in my class. Before Lupe started in my class my word to the children was acceptance. Accept Lupe for who she is, make her feel welcome, help her to understand English (as we tried to learn Spanish), and just be her friend. First graders are so accepting and kind and generous. I am not sure who benefited the most Lupe, my class, or myself. Sometimes life lessons happen when you least expect them. Lupe taught me that having an open mind and open heart allows for amazing things to happen.

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