First, I feel it is very necessary to clear up one of the most untrue rumors, regularly circulated around the district about me and my family. My husband and I at no time ever thought we were zoned for Lewisburg schools. That rumor has been repeated so many times and especially on the DCS anti-DCR FB page. That rumor makes me laugh every time I hear it. It is laughable, because my backyard faces Sandidge Rd. (the road OBHS is on). We live so close to the high school, that no bus comes to our house. One of the things I actually love the most about our location is being able to hear the OBHS band practicing during the week and the cheering and commentary of the football games on Friday nights. (Although, I enjoy the band’s music the most…….no offense football fans)! One of my neighbors is a regular substitute at OBHS, and he walks to school. We love our neighborhood, and we never wanted any other schools. For us, OB schools were the only ones for us, and I mean no offense to any of the other DCS schools.
Secondly, I would like to discuss OBES. There are definitely misconceptions in regards to my feelings about this school, and I want to clear them up. Our family absolutely adored the staff at OBE. Mike and I felt so blessed that Abby had such incredible teachers. Mrs. Ray and Ms. Glenda were two of the absolute best people, and we felt more than grateful that they were Abby’s kindergarten teachers. They worked with us on some of Abby’s anxiety issues and always went above and beyond to accommodate all of the kids in the class. They had the most loving hearts and spirits that were so comforting to all of the students. Ms. Glenda actually sewed little blankets for treasures for Mrs. Ray’s treasure box. I will never forget Abby picking one of Ms. Glenda’s blankets when she got to choose a treasure. Abby liked the blanket, but more importantly to her, Ms. Glenda made it. The fact that Ms. Glenda made the blanket, made it that much more special to Abby. I am thankful we had those two ladies as Abby’s teachers.
In first grade, Abby was blessed to have Mrs. Kerr as her teacher. Melanie is such a sweet and gentile person, so loving and awesome with the kids in her class. Not only that, she happened to be good friends with another OBE teacher that I have known and loved for 15+ years. I felt even more bonded to her for that reason. Abby got to know Mrs. Kerr’s children as well and really liked them. When Abby was out sick for an extended period of time, Melanie and the class made cards for Abby! They made Abby feel so good and so loved! Mrs. Kerr is just a really great person, and she was the perfect teacher for Abby. Unfortunately, her TA got sick with meningitis and left shortly into the year, but we loved the TA for the short time we had her in class! Abby worried about her, and we prayed for her for months after she left the school. While at OBE, I never worried about Abby and always knew that she was in good hands.
The guidance counselor, Stacey Guthrie, was so good to us. I always felt that she was easy to work with and truly loved Abby and the kids. We had many lengthy conversations, and she shared many personal things with me as one mom to another mom with our two kids having similar issues. Stacey worked with Abby weekly even though Abby did not have an IEP or 504 in place. We had great communication, and I felt good about her efforts with my daughter and with me as Abby’s mom. I liked her a lot as a person aside from just being Abby’s guidance counselor. She was a blessing to us.
The P.E. Teacher, Ms. Mills, was another person that we cared for. Because my daughter has ADHD and OCD Anxiety Disorder, she also has some auditory issues. Abby would cry and cry and beg to not go to PE each week. Finally, Abby told me that she hated PE because Ms. Mills yelled at them a lot. I talked to Abby’s teacher about the situation, because I know that Abby can perceive someone to be yelling that simply has a higher tone or pitch when speaking or when speaking more authoritatively. Was Ms. Mills doing something wrong? Absolutely NOT! Because Abby did not have an IEP or 504 in place, how was Ms. Mills supposed to know what Abby’s issues were or were not? I went to the school one day and spoke with Catrina personally. I explained that I was not upset with her at all, and that Abby does like her. I explained Abby’s issues to her, and we worked together on accommodating Abby. I wanted her to know that we were not upset with her. For someone like my daughter, it is hard to have a bunch of excited 5 and 6 year olds running around, loud, and then her, as the PE teacher, having to speak over the noise and especially in a gym. The noise level for Abby was unbearable at times. I appreciated Ms. Mills for working with me and for being understanding to my daughter’s needs. I enjoyed chatting with her at school and have nothing but positive things to say about Ms. Mills. She was another blessing to us.
When Abby was so sick and out of school, she missed her class’s music program. The music teacher, Ms. Gaines, was kind enough to make sure Abby got a CD of the performance. It touched Abby’s heart and made her feel so good. I appreciated Ms. Gaines for caring enough about Abby to make sure she got to have a CD. Being able to play the disc made Abby feel less separated from her class and school during her time of illness. Mrs. Gaines’s act of kindness really meant a lot to Abby and to me and Mike as her parents.
Another person I enjoyed working with at the school was Stacey Allen. Sunnie Barkley asked me to work with her on technology for OBE. Stacey is so smart and was just a great person to work with. She was always a pleasure and truly cares about the school. I appreciated her being receptive to my involvement with the technology decisions and for always being willing to listen to my ideas.
Kimberly Heath was another exceptional teacher at the school. She is extremely intelligent and loves her students. She was always helpful to me even though Abby was not in her class. Mrs. Heath also worked with some of us on the PTO when it came to programs or resources teachers needed/wanted for the school. She made herself available whenever we had questions, and I always appreciated that about Mrs. Heath.
Ms. Anderson is another teacher that always stood out to me. I was very fond of her!! She was always funny and could put a positive spin on a bad situation. She had a great sense of humor, and I always enjoyed my conversations with her. Ms. Anderson and I had some good talks about children with ADHD. She shared some of the ways that she would help students, suffering from attention issues, in her class. At that time, I had no idea about the bands for the chairs or any other resources available. Ms. Anderson used some tools and methods for helping these kids in her class and all on her own. She went above and beyond to assist them, because she truly cares about her students. I felt she really understood the differing needs of the kids and wanted to reach every student. That means a lot to a parent and especially me, since I have two kids with ADHD. Ms. Anderson was another blessing to have at OBE.
One job that often goes overlooked is that of the crossing guard. I remember one in particular that was like a drill sergeant, always making sure cars were in their correct lanes or her whistle would be blowing like crazy. One day, I decided Abby would be a walker instead of a car rider, so I got to know that crossing guard a lot better. It’s funny, because I never looked at her the same way again. She was so caring, funny and full of personality. I realized that she was only serious about her job and the safety of the kids. What may have come across in the beginning as being like a drill sergeant was actually someone that just truly cared about the safety of our kids. How could anyone not appreciate that about her?! My son absolutely adored her, and every day, he would take her candy, water or some kind of goodie. If we were at the bank before school, he would always ask the teller for an extra sucker to take to her. Although we only saw her briefly each day, she really made a positive impression on us, and I am thankful we got to know her!
Carol Dunlap, the MSIS clerk, was always a big help to me. With Abby being sick about 25 times in the 12 months she attended school there, Carol was always patient and understanding about doctors’ notes and always made sure I had what she needed for attendance reasons and state requirements. If we forgot to turn one in, she was kind and understanding about it. I know the MSIS clerks have a lot of responsibilities, and a parent not turning in what they are supposed to makes their jobs harder. Carol was always easy to work with and always seemed to care about Abby.
Biased in my opinion of this person is kindergarten teacher Christa Carson. Her sister, Karen, has been one of my best friends for close to 20 years. I love their family and have known them since Christa’s oldest daughter was around 3 years old. (Her daughter has since graduated from OBHS and is in college now). Christa is an AWESOME teacher! She is so crafty, good with coming up with projects for the kids to do, patient with the children, creative and just an incredibly intelligent, loving person! OBE is lucky to have her as a teacher! It always made Abby feel good, knowing that Christa was at the school. She has always been a blessing to our family, and I love and appreciate her very much!
Now, I want this post to be a positive tribute to the educators and staff members at OBE, so I will not discuss why we pulled Abby from the school. I will say this. It had absolutely nothing to do with the faculty. While I did not know every person employed at the school, I had nothing but positive feelings and opinions about all of the ones we did know. The staff was always a blessing to us, loved our daughter, cared about her well being and were always kind to us. The teachers always went above and beyond and were always willing to accommodate Abby’s needs. Our issue had not one thing to do with the teachers or staff, and I hate that they have been made to believe otherwise. They deserve to be recognized for their hard work and dedication. I appreciated the staff then and nothing has changed that to this day.
Lastly, I would like to express my extreme gratitude to a teacher at Chickasaw Elementary School. After everything that happened with the district and my family, there was one teacher that touched my heart more than words can begin to express. I had no idea who she was, and she did not know me. This teacher only knew about what had gone down between the district and my family. She sent word to me through a mutual friend of ours at another school. My friend expressed how this teacher was so sorry for what we had gone through and really hoped I would consider enrolling Abby at her school. She told my friend to have me request her as Abby’s teacher, and she promised to take really good care of her. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me. After everything that happened, it was the first time that a teacher was looking out for my daughter’s best interest and showed concern for the little girl at the heart of everything. The teacher cared about our child, yet she didn’t even know Abby. Any parent that has ever advocated for their child can relate to how big of a deal that is to us and especially when fighting the education machine. It may seem so trivial to others, but it left a lasting impression on me. So thank you, Kellie Samsel, for being willing to look past the drama and care only about the heart and well being of my child! I love and appreciate you for that, and I know that Chickasaw Elementary is more than blessed to have you as a teacher at the school!!
So to all of the educators and administrators that have remained dedicated to the education of our children through the good and bad times and have sacrificed time with their own families and money out of their own pockets for the betterment of our children, THANK YOU!! You are appreciated! You are valued! You make a difference in our lives and for that you are loved!