“It’s like we’re family. And we do the best we can for everyone in the family.”

Those comments gave me a lot of confidence about the middle school my kid is slated to attend.

In families, we have room to be ourselves. Space to grow and develop. Tough love to challenge us towards positive advancements.

That’s exactly the kind of environment I want the kid to enjoy as he figures out what 6th grade is all about.

The EC teacher continued:

One of our children was having a particularly difficult day, and had dug her heels in about not attending her pull-out class. Our Principal took over the situation, so that I could start the instruction period. I saw him kneel down to the ground, wearing his Sunday best, so that he could address her at eye level. A few minutes later, there was a knock on my door and an announcement of “Special Delivery.”

He had carried her to class, her small arms around his neck. He placed her gently on the ground and said, “Have a great afternoon, sweetie!” And the student joined class without a fuss.

It’s about how we care about our students.

Care, indeed. This extra time and attention in moments of melt-down are just the kind of examples that help put this momma (and I assume other moms with EC kids) at ease.

Tonight was Open House, and I was eager to see what kind of school Gravelly Middle was. The kid attended the field trip earlier in the day (with thanks to his Oma for being on-site for added support). She mentioned that it had taken him a while to calm down after arriving from the activity bus. And even after he was calm, he remained closed and reserved about the situation. That being said, his school counselor gave me a positive comment during afternoon pick: “He did well today at the middle school event.”


I do know that his anxiety-anticipation has been running high at any mention of middle school. The looming unknown takes hold in his mind and creates shadow monsters that seem undefeatable. He goes from Green to Red in an instant: with negative self-talk bubbling from his mouth at the same time self-injury compels his fist to his forehead.

I hate that it eats him up so.

And the only strategy is incremental exposure. It’s the reason I didn’t pull him from the field trip this morning. And it’s why we went back tonight. It’s not like we can skip middle school.

From the schedule, I knew we could easily fit in “Meet the EC Staff” listed on the agenda before heading to swim class.

So we did. And at the same time, I challenged him to think about it differently: “Hey, man. Since you’ve already been here and had the tour, now you can give it to me. I’ll take a video and we can share it.”

Worked like a charm.

He took on the role of tour guide, which left less room available for nerves. And I offered suggestions along the way of what information he could share next.

Gravelly Middle might not be where we end up – there’s an unseen future with lots of possible transitions for our extended family. There may be a move ahead, and if that’s the case – I’ll hope for another introduction to a different school that’s as reassuring as this one was.

And, if we stay put, we’ll proudly join the Gravelly Grizzly family!