Seeing the Monona School Board meetings on the local television news lately has left me thinking back upon my experience with the schools in our town.

I arrived in Monona in shock. The youngest two of our five children were born with Treacher Collins Syndrome. Michaela and Wyatt both had tracheotomies and were tube-fed.

The first months of their lives our only interest was keeping them alive. Michaela was a year and -a-half when we moved to Monona. Wyatt was six months old.

A band of nurses and therapists arrived with us. They descended upon our home each day the way a SWAT team would. When we arrived in shock Monona received us.

During that first summer the library took us in. Various parks kept us happy. The Monona Pool taught our three oldest to swim. In the fall one of the therapists urged me to put our daughters into school. They were three and four years old at the time.

When I said I was not ready for them to go to school because I missed doing all I wanted to, busy keeping Michaela and Wyatt alive, the school principal from Maywood came to our home with a group of teachers. We sat around my kitchen table and talked it out for an entire morning.

By the end of it I felt comfortable sending the girls to school at Maywood. It was one of the best decisions I ever made–for them.

All five of our kids have gone to school in Monona. When Wyatt and Michaela had surgery to remove trachs and feeding tubes the teachers at Maywood brought meals to our home for three weeks.

During their recovery the principal from Nichols drove our oldest son home in the middle of the day when he was sick because I was home with recovering kids–without a car. A few years later when our oldest son decided to try Edgewood for high school Monona Grove High School welcomed him when he realized it was not the right choice for him.

This school year two experiences I’ve had reminded me of the gift Monona has–the teachers.

In December Wyatt and I arrived to Winnequah School to find a smoke event going on. Because there was no fire danger we were brought into the gym to avoid the sub-zero temps outdoors. Teachers arrived unsure of what was happening, their daly routines out of wack. Instantly they began singing songs with the students–giving them a sense of normal in a situation that was not.

In the middle of the winter a family I know made a sudden decision to take their children out of the schools in Monona because they had moved to a new community. It was a difficult experiece for everyone made easier by teachers who said goodbye with loving gestures, their arms extended open for future visits. The family has returned to visit, speaking often of the good quality education Monona provided.

I arrived to Monona in shock. Monona took us in. The Monona schools welcomed, embraced, nourished, educated our five children–and prepared them for who they will be. This is what the schools in Monona are. Not a headline run across the local news at night.

Filed under: SchoolsTom's Posts

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