The visit to the aviation academy was scheduled for the week Teddy returned from camp. Thirteen openings left and Kate had wasted no time filling out paper work. Teddy was registered and if all went well with their visit today, he would attend. Driving to the airport Kate couldn’t help but wonder if this was the right decision. Teddy’s school path had always been difficult. Upon his third grade teacher’s suggestion, Teddy was academically tested. Kate remembered how excited the psychologist had been to report her son’s extremely high scores. Advancing Teddy two grade levels was the recommendation. After many heartfelt discussions she and her husband had decided Teddy would move ahead one grade level and two grade levels ahead in science. Academically challenging Teddy had been positive in many respects. He loved engaging his teachers in heady science discussions and was soon advanced to high school classes during his middle school years.
Kate glanced over at Teddy’s profile, deep in thought. He loved car rides for “think time.” She realized the commute to the airport would not be a negative for Teddy. It was the social-emotional stuff that was difficult for him, being so much younger than the others. He’d often been an easy target..How would this play out at a new school? They pulled into the the school parking lot just outside of the airport. “Wow, it’s so modern and new. I like that kind of thing better,” Teddy commented. Trucks and construction cones blocked off what looked like a new addition. Teddy took a deep breath and got out of the car. Kate followed him into the air conditioned lobby and they sat down to wait for the school counselor.
They both took in the bright yellow spinning stools at the tables, low couches and aviation related photos on the walls. The counselor put them at ease immediately and invited them into his office. Kate would not remember exactly how the entire conversation played out but she will always remember this part. “ So why do you want to attend the aviation academy Teddy?” Mr. Frasier inquired. “Well, I’ve been treated disrespectfully and I have treated others disrespectfully. I feel like I need a fresh start.” Kate turned so Teddy would not see her tears. She felt overwhelmed by his brave honesty. Mr. Frasier explained that kids choose to attend the school for many reasons and that there were many students attending who had also wanted a fresh start. “You know Teddy, it’s cool to be smart here.”
As a teacher, Kate knows in her heart there is no such thing as a perfect school. It’s been seven months now though and her son does not complain about having to go to school. He comfortably wears his uniform and rides the city bus to and from school. For Christmas he wanted a class ring and he is talking about traveling with the Spanish class next year to Costa Rica. Teddy has come home many evenings with stories from visiting pilots of commercial planes and fighter jets. Arriving home recently he shared how the Pilot who flies President Obama’s helicopter spoke at their assembly. “ We could get in line to meet him mom, and I did.” “What did you say to him?” Kate asked.
“ I just shook his hand and thanked him for coming to the school. I told him I want to fly just like him some day too.”