Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "An Opportunity to Develop"

This poem came out of the September 4, 2018 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] janetmiles , [personal profile] alexseanchai , [personal profile] dialecticdreamer , [personal profile] erulisse , [personal profile] chanter_greenie, and rix_scaedu. It also fills the "opportunity" square in my 9-1-18 card for the Cottoncandy Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles. It belongs to the Shiv thread of the Polychrome Heroics series. It follows "Uncovering the Complete Truth," so read that first or this won't make much sense.

"An Opportunity to Develop"

[Monday, March 9, 2015]

Alvie liked Dr. G.

He was cuddly and
wore wacky sweaters
and got her out of the school
where mean teachers picked on her.

She liked Manushi too.

Manushi explained
that a social worker was
a kind of special friend who
helped you to solve big problems.

They met several times to talk about
all the trouble that Alvie's teacher
and her principal were getting into.

They also met to talk about
which school Alvie should try next.

This time Alvie's mom had
the baby sling because
her grandparents were
too busy to babysit today.

"And who's this?" Dr. G said,
grinning the way most people
did when they saw a puppy.

"That's my baby brother DeSoto,"
Alvie said. "He's named after the lake,
and he just had his first birthday."

Dr. G waved to the baby, and DeSoto
tried to climb out of the sling like always.
It's a wonder he hasn't busted his head.

Mom just rolled her eyes and said,
"You want to hold the can of worms?
Sometimes Jimell does that, but he
already got peed on once today."

"I'd love to," Dr. G said. "May I borrow
your baby sling? Mine is at home."

"You have kids?" Mom asked.

"I have six," Dr. G said. "My youngest,
Edison, is four. He has high skin hunger
and an adventurous spirit. We find that
wearing him helps keep him calm."

"Babywearing has dozens of benefits,"
Manushi added. "Family Services has
handouts about that if you're interested."

"Well, I just do it to keep my hands free,
but sure, I'll look," Mom replied.

Once Dr. G got the baby sling on
and the baby in it, DeSoto turned
to exploring his sweater, which looked
like someone had attacked it with
a jumbo box of crayons.

"Today we're going to talk about
school options," Dr. G said.

"I brought some fun stuff
to help us organize ideas,"
Manushi said, bringing out
two giant clipboards, paper,
and a bunch of art supplies.

"What stuff?" Alvie asked.

"I'm going to make something
called a mind map. It's a picture
with words that helps people think
of complex things more easily,"
Manushi explained. "I brought
a spare so you can try it too."

She used colored pencils
to draw a brick building with
a label that said Schools.

"Okay. I like drawing,"
Alvie said, grabbing
a box of crayons.

"I'm afraid that schools
in Lincoln leave much
to be desired," Dr. G said.

Manushi sketched a penny
with Lincoln's head on it and
drew a line connecting that
to the school picture.

"The public schools don't
have a good gifted program.
Almost all the private ones are
very religious, and the ones that
aren't focus on children younger
than Alvie," said Dr. G. "However,
any of them would be better than
Alvie's previous school."

"Yeah, that bar is lying
in a ditch," Alvie's dad said.
"You could step over it."

"I intend to," Dr. G said.

Meanwhile, Manushi was
jotting those ideas on her page.

Alvie followed along, although
she made different designs.

"Now there's another option,
if the family might consider moving,"
Dr. G said, looking at both parents.

"Let's hear it," Dad said.

"Omaha has much better schools,"
Dr. G said. "The public system has
more support for gifted students, and
there's even a Montessori school
that goes up to grade 6."

Mom fidgeted. "We're not
made of money like some folks."

"You don't need to be," Dr. G said.
"I'm sure the state will be happy to pay
for at least a year of Alvie's education
and any therapy she might need."

"Why on Earth would they do that?"
Mom said, staring at him.

"To avoid a very expensive lawsuit
that they would most certainly lose,"
Dr. G said. "I can tell you that Mrs. Roach
wants to make amends, which means we
can meet with her police adjudicator and
discuss appropriate restitution."

"That wouldn't last forever, though,
and then what?" Mom asked.

"Therapy should, schooling
might or might not," Dr. G said.
"Do either of you have any interest
in pursuing further education?"

"I've always wanted to, but --"
She shrugged. "LPN was
the most I could manage."

"Let me check something."
Dr. G poked at his smartphone.
"Metropolitan Community College
in Omaha has a bridge program
you could finish in three semesters."

"That ... might work," Mom said.

"Well, I just lost that toss,"
Dad said, and laughed.

"What toss?" Dr. G asked,
tilting his head like a dog.

"I got folks here in Lincoln.
Charisse's family is in Omaha,"
Dad explained. "When we hitched,
we made a game of deciding
which of our cities to live in."

"I fired my garter into a crowd of
our single relatives," Mom said.
"Since my brother-in-law Lamark
is almost seven feet tall, he won."

"But this really puts the toss
back in action," Dad said.

"You won the original," Mom said.

"And I've had seven wonderful years
to enjoy my winnings," he said, and
kissed her. "I don't mind moving."

"I suppose all we'd really be doing
is flipping who drives to which holidays,"
Mom said. "We already go back and forth
on a regular basis, so it isn't a big shift."

Dr. G waved his hands. "Let's not
make any hasty decisions," he said.
"I've listed four of the best schools I
could find, two in each town. I propose
that we visit all of them, and anything else
you want to scout in Omaha, before we
sit down to discuss which way to go."

"Yay, field trip!" Manushi exclaimed,
throwing in her hands in the air.

"Sure, why not," Dad said.

"I'll pack a picnic basket
of snacks," Mom said.

"So what do you think of
the mind map?" Manushi asked,
turning to Alvie with a smile.

"It's pretty," Alvie said.
"Yours is nicer."

She had mostly words
and doodles on hers.

Manushi had drawn in
an Indian head penny
for Omaha and all kinds
of other cool tidbits.

"Well, I took a class
on ways to show ideas,"
Manushi said. "It does
take some practice."

"That sounds like fun,"
Alvie said. She liked art,
though not as much as reading.

As soon as Mom came back with
the snacks, they all piled into
the Family Services van and
went to the first place.

Rousseau Elementary School
was pretty nice inside, but
it was also pretty white.

Alvie watched, but she only
saw a few other black kids.

"They have a good library,"
Dad said. "That's important."

"True, and gifted children get
extra time there," Dr. G said.
"The catch is, it's a partial program,
and gifted children are gifted all day,
every day. That's not enough."

"What makes you think that
our daughter is gifted?" Dad said.

"I've met her," Dr. G said dryly.
"I have some of my own, I know
the type. However, I do recommend
some formal tests to help determine
what kind of education Alvie needs."

"The state will pay for that,"
Manushi said. "I can order those
right out of my own office. We do
educational testing all the time."

"Tests are boring," Alvie grumbled.

Dr. G chuckled. "They are if they're
too easy, aren't they?" he said. "But I
know some really fun ones. Edison
likes to use some of them as puzzles
when we get stuck waiting somewhere."

If the tests had puzzles, then maybe
they wouldn't be too bad after all.

"Okay, I'll try," Alvie said.

"That's all I ask," Dr. G said.
"What do you think of this school?"

"It's okay, I guess," Alvie said.
"It's way nicer than my old one."

"Shall we move on the next?"
Dr. G said. "Then you'll have
more for comparison."

"Sure," Alvie said, and they
got back in the van to visit.
Parkview Christian School.

"Now this one doesn't have
a gifted program as such, but
they do have Poetry Out Loud,"
Dr. G said. "I thought that
you might like that club."

"I like poetry," Alvie said.

At least the other students
were more mixed, so she
didn't stick out so much.

It reminded her of church,
not the ones her family went to,
but some others she'd visited
on field trips or with friends.

Alvie wasn't sure that
she wanted to go to church
every day, and said so.

"That's okay, there are
other schools," Dr. G said.
"Why don't we plan to make
a day trip to Omaha next week?"

Mom took out her calendar,
they talked for a few minutes,
and planned out that trip.

Meanwhile Manushi showed
Alvie her mind map again.

Two more branches had been
added to the Lincoln part,
one for each school.

Off to the side,
a cartoon goat
said, "Meh!"

Alvie giggled.

Then she copied
the goat on her page.

During the next few days,
Manushi and Dr. G arranged for
Alvie to take several tests designed
to measure how smart she was.

Pretty smart, it turned out,
and as promised the tests
were actually kind of cool.

Dr. G and Manushi talked about
expected and unexpected talents.

Alvie hadn't even known you could
measure some of the stuff that they
tested for, like hearing sounds in
a language you didn't even speak.

She'd gotten a perfect score
in one section of that test.

Alvie's parents spent the week
going "Wha?" a lot and apologizing
to her for not noticing sooner.

"She already reads adult books,"
Dr. G said. "Her linguistic aptitude
is the highest, followed by kinesthetic
and logical-mathematical intelligences.
The only area she's below average is
naturalistic intelligence, and that
could be lack of exposure."

"We go biking a lot, but that's
mostly around the city," Dad said.

"We should add more camping
and other wilderness activities,"
Mom said, making a note.

Alvie doodled a tree and
a plus sign on her mind map.

"That's a good idea," Dr. G said.
"After what happened at school,
it's important for us to make up
the lost ground now that we know."

"Equality of opportunity demands that
each child be given the type of education
which best meets her needs and capacities,"
Manushi said. "This principle is violated when
a gifted child is forced into an education which
does not consider her superior abilities and
give her an opportunity to develop it."

Alvie liked the sound of that.

Still, she worried a little about
making the whole family move
just so she could have a new school.

Sometimes, it was a little scary
exploring the lights and shadows
of herself, too. There was more
than she had realized before.

Despite the uncertainty, though,
Alvie felt sure of one thing:

Searching for a new school
was a lot more fun than
attending her old one.

* * *


Jimell Reid -- He has light toffee skin, brown eyes, and nappy black hair shaved off. He wears glasses. He has an extended family in Lincoln, Nebraska. Jimell is the husband of Charisse, father of Alvie (6) and DeSoto (1). Jimell works as a golf caddy at Mahoney Golf Course in Lincoln. He makes $15 per hour, plus tips. An avid bookworm, he reads to his family regularly and volunteers for story hour at the library occasionally. He also enjoys jazz and blues music. The family often goes biking together.
Qualities: Good (+2) Bicycle Enthusiast, Good (+2) Bookworm, Good (+2) Father, Good (+2) Golf Caddy, Good (+2) Fan of Jazz and Blues
Poor (-2) Near-Sighted

In local-America, the average salary for a golf caddy is $30,240/year. Working 40 hours per week, 50 weeks per year, that equates to a monthly pay of $2,520, weekly pay of $605, and an hourly wage of $15.12. Terramagne-America has a minimum wage of $15/hour.

Mahoney Golf Course
7900 Adams St, Lincoln, NE 68507
R9VP+7H Lincoln, Nebraska

Charisse Reid -- She has caramel skin, brown eyes, and loosely nappy black hair that almost reaches her shoulders. She has an extended family in Omaha, Nebraska. She is the wife of Jimell, mother of Alvie and DeSoto. Charisse works as a Licensed Practical Nurse at the Health 360 Integrated Care Clinic in Lincoln. She makes $19 an hour, but doesn't always get as many hours as she wants. She wanted more out of life, and this was the best she could do, which frustrates her. Sometimes Charisse volunteers to teach healthy soul food cooking at the community center. The family often goes biking together.
Qualities: Good (+2) Bicycle Enthusiast, Good (+2) Emotional Intelligence, Good (+2) Healthy Soul Food Cook, Good (+2) Licensed Practical Nurse, Good (+2) Mother
Poor (-2) Stifled Ambition

Health 360 Integrated Care Clinic
2301 O St, Lincoln, NE 68510
R876+4W Lincoln, Nebraska

Nebraska offers bridge programs to advance from Licensed Practical Nurse to Registered Nurse. Metropolitan Community College in Omaha, Nebraska offers one that runs for three quarters.

DeSoto Reid -- He has tinted skin, brown eyes, and short nappy brown hair. He is currently 1 year old. He is named after DeSoto Lake, where he was conceived. He is the son of Jimell and Charisse, younger brother of Alvie. They live in Lincoln, Nebraska. DeSoto has a knack for scrambling over baby gates and opening closed doors to investigate things on the other side. He is happiest when riding in the baby seat on his mother's bicycle.
Qualities: Good (+2) Adventurous
Poor (-2) No Sense of Self-Preservation

Desoto National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center
Diverse landscape featuring a variety of wildlife & a visitor center with old steamboat artifacts.
1434 316th Ln, Missouri Valley, IA 51555

* * *

"Attitudes growing out of frustration have caused gifted children to be classified as delinquents and social maladjusted cases. There is need for careful systematic identification in all schools. Daydreaming on the part of a child, although considered a symptom of maladjustment, is really a tension reducing mechanism. Likewise, aggressiveness, lying, and stealing are attempts to reduce tension. Furthermore, in so far as a study of children will help, it is far wiser to prevent problems from becoming acute than to introduce clinical aid and other external correctives into the educational program after the problem child has become a truant or delinquent. Equality of opportunity demands that each child be given the type of education which best meets his needs and capacities. This principle is violated when a gifted child is forced to accept an education which does not take into consideration his superior ability and give him an opportunity to develop it. The administration should be responsible for instructing the principal and teachers that pupils should never be threatened with transfer to a special class. The plans of the administrator must include provisions for parent education so that the program becomes one of teamwork toward common goals. It is the legal responsibility of the state and the local district to furnish this program. If the responsibility of the state and local district is interpreted as merely permissive, there may be neglect and denial of opportunity to many children unless vigorous leadership is supplemented with adequate financial support .
The Education of Exceptional Children 49th Yearbook, Part II, The National Society for the Study of Education, 1950

Mind-mapping is a way of illustrating ideas. Learn how to make a mind map.

Almost all the private schools in Lincoln, Nebraska are Christian.

Most black people are Protestant.

Parkview Christian School makes no mention of honors but does have a poetry activity. See the exterior of the school.

The public schools offer elementary gifted programs only in literature and math, which is fuckall useless for kids who are gifted all day long, every day. Even the most extremely gifted are offered only partial programming, which is beyond ridiculous.

Rousseau Elementary School
3701 South 33rd St, Lincoln, NE, 68506
Public district, PK-5|559 students

Read about Rousseau Elementary School. See the exterior of the school.

Omaha public schools seem to have a better elementary gifted program with expansion options. They also offer many types of acceleration, which would help.

Among private schools, Brownell Talbot is rich and exemplary, but doesn't seem to be diverse. That's probably a terrible cultural match. They have an extended care program, though.

Brownell Talbot School
400 North Happy Hollow Boulevard
Omaha, NE 68132

See the outside of Brownell Talbot School.

Montessori Elementary School of Omaha goes up to Grade 6. Explore Montessori principles for parents and methods at home.

Montessori Elementary School of Omaha

12504 Pacific Street, Omaha, NE 68154

Babywearing has many benefits. Read about how it works.

A Coogi sweater is made with many bright colors, originally from the Coogi company in Australia. Here is Graham's Coogi sweater.

Artist clipboards come in many styles. Manushi uses an Alvin drawing board with grid surface and heavy-duty clips at 23 x 26 inches.

Identifying a gifted child begins with watching for signs and domains. For sake of completeness, observe all nine types of intelligence. Various tests and assessments offer documentation if needed to obtain outside services. The Pimsleur Language Aptitude Battery is an example of a test that measures just one area of expertise. I took it in high school and scored perfect on more than one section -- which apparently nobody had ever done before, and that was at the all honors school. Yes, I break even advanced tests.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, education, family skills, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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