Friday, February 29, 2008

"Feathered" Friend

Angel is a symbol for everything good in the world; sweetness, kindness, and innocence. She's the one who called me a "fluttery butterfly" a September post; she is an 8th grade special education student, one the likes of which I have never met before, and I will hate to see her leave for the high school at the end of this school year.

Angel has a fixation with animals. She takes comfort in talking about them and playing with them. If you happen to mention any animal in class, her ears perk up, and she has a hard time re-focusing. Wear anything (clothing, jewelry, etc.) with an animal on it, and you will have Angel all over you to see it closer, touch it, etc. So imagine the thrill she had when I opened my "Prize Cabinet" and showed her the bag of gently-used Beanie Babies that a parent had donated. Students earn points in my room for various target behaviors; Angel's are to arrive on time, get straight to work, and stay on task as she works on a computer program designed to increase reading skills. Since the Beanies arrived, she has earned many of them, and the drill is always the same; she immediately asks me to read the name of the animal to her and then greets it enthusiastically, "Hello, Alli, the alligator!!" or "Hello, Baldy the eagle!!" "Let's swim to lunch now!" or "Let's fly through the sky to lunch! What? You would like to eat a mouse? Okay! I will get you one." And off she goes to lunch.

When Angel doesn't have an animal in hand, she sometimes makes them out of Kleenex. She also makes animal sounds for fun. Every morning, in fact, she enters the student center, "chirping" through her teeth as one of the secretaries says, "Do I hear a cardinal? Is it spring already? Oh, I'm so happy!" And Angel giggles. This has been going on for a few weeks now.

Although she's never supposed to bring any of her animals from home (they really distract her), she sometimes sneaks one in. Yesterday, when things finally settled in the classroom and I glanced over at Angel, this is what I saw:

I hope the high school allows birds...

P.S. This photo was altered (by my brilliant sister, Michelle) to protect Angel's identity. The only time I have ever posted an untouched photo of a student was with the parent's consent.


  1. ohh this is a priceless picture!
    Pretty neat.

  2. I love the story, and I loved that you also had the photo altered (though the photo is great!).

  3. WOW! You are one remarkable woman! When they start cloning people....maybe they will start with teachers like you and Christy. The world needs tons more of the two of you!

  4. Just found your blog (followed you over from A Novel Woman).

    As the mother of a 16 year old autistic son, who's a 100% full-inclusion sophomore (God Help Us), I will keep Angel in my prayers for a successful transition. Maybe she won't want the animals in high school once she sees how "grown-up" everyone is..... then, again, high school kids can be rather stupid, so a stuffed animal is nothing

    Keep up the good work.



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