Climbing with Courage…Falling and Failing?
Friends of Zachary,
I wanted to take this opportunity share my latest post with an open e-mail that was recently sent to Dr. Burak, Superintendent of Lynbrook Schools. Zachary recently participated in a 3 day – overnight outdoor recreation program that took him and his entire 6th grade class into the hills of update New York – Frost Valley. The trip is designed to educate the students through scheduled interactive programs that foster team building, self awareness, challenging obstacles, the true respect for nature and self reliance. Many of the scheduled programs were geared towards extended hikes, cold weather conditions and physical participation that may have been too challenging for Zachary. Despite these conditions, Zachary wanted to go anyway. I share this letter because it truly captures the essence of the last 3 days and a spirit that has been repressed for awhile. I was an invited guest…not to be seen or heard (which is hard for me to do) but simply to be present in case any major medical issues arose. Please read on…
December 13, 2013
Dear Dr. Burak,
It is with great appreciation that I share with you Zachary’s experience at this years South Middle School Frost Valley trip. The weeks and days leading up to the trip were well organized with Zachary’s needs in mind. The program, led by Ms. Ronai and Ms. Freiman were amazingly fluid and seamless with regards to Zachary schedule, medical needs, communication, support staff, transportation and accommodations. Every conceivable item was well thought out and considered. What was more impressive was the level of attention provided to all the children on the trip while the needs of Zachary were met.
The “team” did a remarkable job integrating Zachary into the group and looking at creative ways to include him in as many “hands-on” programs available.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the following members of your team who really went above and beyond to exceed expectations. Mrs. Ronai, Ms. Freiman, Mrs.McCartney, Mr. Bennett, Mrs. Bogard and Ms. Avedisian were incredibly attuned to Zachary’s daily needs. While I’m sure this is true for all the children on the trip, as a father, I noticed that my son’s needs were met.
A Defining Moment: Climbing with Courage…Failing and Falling?
Zachary was scheduled to participate in a group rock climbing program but at the last minute decided to back out due to concerns about “failing and falling” in front of his classmates. It was disappointing for him as I’m sure the rock wall represented a personal challenge as he continues to grapple with his definition of “normal”. As you know, Zachary has limited use of his left side but was encouraged by “the team” to give it another try. Through the quick efforts of Ms. Freiman and Mrs. Bogard, a private 30 minute climb was scheduled late in the day. As you can see in the video link below, I could not have been more proud of my son this day. Not because he climbed the rock wall but because he was able to gather his courage, commitment and determination to overcoming his fears. At the end of the climb, I saw my son realize that anything is possible and that he finally felt “normal”. A feeling he has not had in a very long time.
This trip was an eye opening experience for me. I believe your staff are more than just educators. They are passionate and committed individuals who showed that sometimes the greatest lesson are not taught in a classroom but through real life experiences. I think we all learned a great deal on this trip. I know Zachary learned what his new “normal” could be.
Thank you and the Lynbrook School system for all your support and commitment to our family and children’s well being.
With deepest appreciation,
Deena and David Bernstein
“It Takes a Village”