Fond Farewell to the Freeman Faculty: You are Fabulous!Posted: June 15, 2011
My 19-year-old daughter graduates from Douglas S. Freeman High School in Richmond’s West End today. Though beset with intellectual disabilities, she is a confident young woman thanks in great part to the amazing faculty at Freeman. As parents, you always second-guess your decisions regarding your children, but we could not have picked a better school for her and have not once questioned this choice.
Our daughter’s two lead teachers over the past five years, Lourie Sledd and Rita Tembe, are tremendous. Talented and patient beyond compare, they are devoted to their students and have sacrificed much of their own lives for them. Being a special education teacher in a public school demands so much more than teaching. The paperwork alone required by federal, state, and local mandate would overwhelm most normal human beings. Then they must schedule and attend seemingly endless meetings with many others, and that is on top of the regular teacher requirements. I have been continually impressed by their graceful good humor through all of the drudgery.
Throughout our daughter’s years at Freeman, these beautiful women have always supported her efforts to get involved in regular school activities. Though this has meant extra work coordinating with other faculty, they have gladly gone out of their way to make sure that our daughter was comfortable and knew what she was doing. Fortunately they have been blessed with some wonderful aides whom our daughter adores, but it has been these two ladies leading the way for a truly terrific high school experience.
Thanks in large part to their support of our desires for our daughter, she will be attending a post-secondary program at a leading university out-of-state in the fall. When we first described this unique opportunity to her teachers, they didn’t think that we were crazy. Instead, they bent over backwards to get us everything that we needed to make this dream come true.
As we face this bittersweet transition, the Hub and I cannot be more thankful for all of the support of the Freeman community led by Anne Poates, its principal. This remarkable high school has embraced our daughter and her special needs. We will be forever grateful for the kindness, acceptance and effort bestowed on her during her Freeman years.
Congratulations dear daughter and the whole Freeman Class of 2011! May all of your dreams come true! It’s time to bring on the Pomp and Circumstance.