Exceptional Delaware Proudly Endorses Ashley Sabo For Red Clay School Board

I’ve been a fan of Ashley Sabo going on a year and a half now.  Oddly enough, I first “met” her through a Rodel-Vision conference on Twitter!  Life is funny like that.  But Sabo represents the very best of what a school board member can offer.  She is a compassionate mom and wife, very involved with the community, attends most of the Red Clay board meetings and has for a very long time, gives public comment, is a CASA officer in Delaware (helping out kids in foster parent situations), was very involved in Red Clay’s inclusion policy, and fully supports the most fundamental and crucial of parental rights when it comes to education.

I’ve met and spoken with Sabo many times and she is one of those who just gets it.  She understands that far too many of the bad education policy in Delaware, as well as America, is not good for students.  I wish I lived in Red Clay so I could vote for her, but I strongly encourage all Red Clay Consolidated School District citizens to vote for Sabo on May 9th.

The Red Clay Education Association voted to endorse Sabo for Red Clay’s Board of Education in the upcoming election.  As the largest school district in the state, this is a huge endorsement for Sabo!

Some of the posts on her Facebook candidate page clearly illustrate why she should get your vote in Red Clay!

A year ago I made public comment at the board meeting about the need for more play and hands on learning in kindergarten. I still firmly believe kids, and not just kindergarteners, benefit from LESS rigor – fewer worksheets, less time at their desk – and MORE active learning – greater time using play to learn, more hands on activities. We need to help instil the LOVE of learning in kids!

For the past 3 years I have attended the majority of board meetings, making public comment when issues arose that needed to be addressed. I have attended countless committee meetings working tirelessly to ensure that decisions the district makes benefit all students. I have met with teachers on my own time to hear their concerns about different topics.

I am involved as a parent and will be even more involved as an elected board member.

As a parent of a high schooler in general education classes with no supports, an elementary student in a general education classroom with supports and a paraprofessional and a youngster who would love if there were more pre-k programs I have a wide variety of experience in the world of education.

BUT…. I am not a teacher. They are the ones working tirelessly for our children and they are the ones greatly affected by policy changes. I value their experience and knowledge.

I am committed to listening to our educators – making decisions that not only benefit all students but also help teachers spend more time teaching and less time navigating policy changes and paperwork.

I am beyond thankful for the wonderful teachers in my life and my children’s’ lives.

Next week, there will be a “Meet The Candidate Night” at Café Napoli Restaurant and Pizzeria at 4391 Kirkwood Hwy, in Wilmington on Wednesday, March 29th from 7pm to 9pm.

 

Red Clay Parent Ashley Sabo Speaks Out In Support Of Inclusion

Red Clay parent Ashley Sabo, who I’ve written about a few times on here, just gave a stirring public comment at the Red Clay board meeting.  While I wasn’t there, Ashley was kind enough to share it with me.

As an involved parent and inclusion advocate, the magnitude of inclusion did not become real until my daughter started kindergarten last year.  It was with great trepidation, major anxiety and a lot of prayer that we put her in full inclusion at Forest Oak.  We met with her teacher soon into the school year and we continued the constant communication throughout the year.  It did not take long at all to know that not only did we make the right decision putting her in full inclusion, but when it came to Kindergarten teachers we hit the jackpot.

Jackie Gallagher worked with our daughter, Anna, to meet her where she was then pushed her forward to develop new skills and abilities and onward to success. When one method or plan didn’t work for Anna, she would alter things. If equipment or modifications were needed she worked tirelessly to get them.  She reached out to other staff who had different knowledge and experience to create new ways for Anna to learn.  She approached each day with understanding and patience and behind her was an administration who listened not only to the teacher but to us as parents – fully respecting our expertise when it comes to our daughter and was committed to the mindset that Anna was just as much a Forest Oak student as any other student without special needs.

We often hear about needing to close the achievement gap and more rigor, rigor, rigor.  I can assure you it was not the rigorous worksheets and overwhelming curriculum thrown at kindergarteners these days which made Anna’s year successful.  It was the open communication between parent, teacher and administration. It was the willingness to be flexible and make adjustments. It was the collaboration between colleagues to develop plans and find the right resources which made Anna’s kindergarten year so successful.

Growth and success will never be from a standardized test or learning at a computer. Closing the achievement gap is not something that can be done through legislation.

Successful inclusion happens when the line of communication between parent, teacher and administrator is always open. When requests for resources and equipment are met in a timely manner.  When teachers are flexible and willing to make changes to meet the needs of their students.

Seeing the joy as my daughter received a birthday invitation to her classmate’s party is the outcome of inclusion and is proof inclusion can be a wonderfully, beautiful thing.

If anything is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. And Inclusion is worth doing so we need to make sure it stays as a top priority and that changes take place so that we can look back and say Red Clay has done well.

Ashley Sabo’s Must Read Public Comment To Red Clay’s Board About Kindergarten

Ashley Sabo addressed the Red Clay Consolidated School District Board of Education tonight about a topic that is rising with grave concern to parents and educators all over the country.  Rigor and kindergarten are like oil and water.  They don’t belong together at all.  She should run for public office!

In the essay, “All I really need to know I learned in Kindergarten” the author writes about how all the things we need to know for living life are learned in kindergarten, not in graduate level classes or adulthood, but in that primary year of our schooling. The things he says we learn are: share everything, play fair, don’t hit, put things back where you found them, clean up your mess, say sorry when you hurt someone, live a balanced life – learn some, think some, draw and paint, sing and dance, and play and work every day.  And wonder, never lose your sense of wonder.

As a parent of a kindergartner I have watched the joy of learning fade from her – a child who once happily grabbed her backpack and headed to the car for school now is reluctant to go and would prefer a nap on the couch despite it being 8:15 in the morning. The joy of learning is fading for the sake of rit and rigor and supposed success, when we’re really losing the success of learned social skills and dynamic imaginative play. 

Our students are no longer taught to live a balanced life with both play and work. Rather they are pushed to the limit each day with more testing and more worksheets and more rigorous academia.  Despite studies that show children who are allowed to play have higher language skills, both receptive and expressive, and better problem solving skills, school leadership continues to add on to the curriculum requirements. 

In addition to language and problem solving skills, learning through play helps children increase cognitive development, increase self-confidence, reduce anxiety, learn basic social development skills such as cooperation, sharing, and conflict resolution – all skills and traits that are necessary and critical to navigating adulthood.

I would wager a guess that a number of you, if not the majority of you, had the old-fashion type of kindergarten that allowed for naps, extra recess, more imaginative play and less seat work – and look at you all, I think you turned out pretty well, after all you are overseeing the education of thousands of children.

I implore you, the school board and district leaders, to reconsider the kindergarten curriculum and the proposed increase of scope and sequence being piloted this year. Our kids deserve to be kids and learn the best way kids do – through play!

Thank you

No, thank you Ashley Sabo for having the heart and the guts to stand before a school board and telling them basic truths.  I joked years ago that Governor Markell would set up a Smarter Balanced In Utero Assessment.  With all the Kindergarten and pre-school push lately, I may not be too far off!  But seriously, Ashley Sabo should run for office.  We need more common sense in Legislative Hall.  And any public comment that quotes Robert Fulghum is great!

16 To Watch In 2016: Ashley Sabo

AshleySabo

 

Ashley who?  That might be a question many of you are asking.  But for those who know her, I’m sure they can contest that Ashley Sabo is a force to be reckoned with.  The first encounter I had with Ashley was during the Vision Coalition annual conference at the end of October.  For the past two years I have made it a point to “crash” their Twitter hashtag party.  I usually instinctively know where someone stands on Delaware education, but Ashley stood out.  She responded on many of the tweets, and it went from there.

Ashley is, first and foremost, a mother and wife.  One of her children is special needs.  Ashley became very involved in the Red Clay Consolidated School District to make sure her child was getting the best education possible.  Red Clay recently adopted a massive inclusion push for students with disabilities and their regular peers.  When the initiative started, Ashley knew she had to become involved right away.  As a result, Ashley was the co-chair of the Red Clay Secondary School Inclusion Committee.  She is now the co-chair for the District Inclusion Oversight Committee.

Her other volunteer activities are as follows: President of the Meadowood PTA, Secretary and member of the advocacy committee for the Delaware PTA, and she is working on becoming a trained Educational Surrogate Parent.  The last position is where someone acts as a parent in the special education process for children with disabilities in the Delaware foster-care system.  As well, she is also working on becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate, which is a court-appointed position which helps abused or neglected children find a safe and healthy environment in a permanent home.

Back in March of 2014, Ashley and her husband were very involved in the feud between Nemours and United Healthcare.  For parents of special needs children, there is usually some catalyst that forces them to act.  For Ashley, this was that moment.  Once a special needs parent becomes involved in advocating not only for their child but others, it is very hard to put that fire out.  Shortly after I started this blog, another Delaware blogger left a comment on an article that always stuck with me in his accurate description of parents of special needs children:

I’ve always felt that God picks his greatest works and gives them special needs children, knowing full well that through their advocacy, care, and love, the envelope will be stretched enabling others who are weak, tired, and poor to be able to slip in and have their causes addressed too……. Meaning that if someone forces you to address an issue due to their advocacy, it is an easy next step to widen the breadth of the process to include the others as well. But the latter effort would be deemed totally impossible to attempt, were there never those advocates who initially force one to start the process. Across many states, there is a high preponderance of those who are considered the doers of good for society, who themselves are parents of special needs children. It is those parents, whose work keeps all of society human… That of course is my humble opinion. But it has become my explanation as to why all parents of special needs children seem to be, again in my opinion, bordering superhuman…

I wouldn’t say we are “superhuman”, but very dedicated to doing everything we can to make sure our children have the best life possible.  If that means going against authority or even state agencies in the attempt, so be it.  For Ashley Sabo, a life-long resident of Delaware with two masters degrees, she is well-armed for this.  There are many Ashley’s in Delaware and across America.  But Ashley has that extra fuel to keep the conversations going AND to make a difference.  I would strongly urge any district officials in Red Clay, state legislators, and those in power who have the capability of making true and lasting change for our special needs kids to truly listen to Ashley.  She is wise beyond her young years and this is clear when you meet her.  I have no doubt Ashley will be a force for change in the coming years.

As recently last night, I published an article about Red Clay’s inclusion push.  While it is certainly a very noble gesture, it won’t work if the resources and staff are not able to meet the needs of the students.  This is Ashley’s biggest fight at the moment, getting those in the district to listen to what is glaringly obvious.  Should the redistricting proposal from the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission pass, Red Clay will have even more students.  If they can’t get this now, how are they going to do this with a large influx of new students?  Whatever happens, I have faith Ashley will be at the front of the debate.  While she lists Delaware Attorney General Matt Denn and State Rep. Kim Williams as an inspiration, I can say she is a light in the darkness for all the special needs children in Delaware.