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Upon Their Hands They Will Carry you
Page 44

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 Classes.

"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 little teacher.

"I know what you mean." She responded.

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 but soft.

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 all times."

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 other students.

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