Tuesday, November 18, 2014

We're So Lucky

This is a picture of Brody's principal, Liz Banner.  An amazing woman you'll see as you read the article below.  I feel so blessed that Brody is able to attend school at Spectrum.  Brody's done so well this year.  No meltdowns that I know of.  Whenever I ask him how his day was, his
 reply is always, "We had fun!"  I'm grateful for the teachers, paraeducators, principal, and all of the volunteers who are so dedicated to our kids.  Thank you for all you do!  :)  
November 16, 2014 6:45 pm • Spenser Heaps DAILY HERALD

Photos: Spectrum Academy principal finds motivation in her own family

PLEASANT GROVE -- As Liz Banner walks the hallways of Spectrum Academy, she can hardly make it 20 feet without being flagged down by a staff member or student for a question, conversation or simply a hug or high-five.

As the principal of a charter school serving more than 400 students with autism, Banner is always on the move. And, somehow, she always seems to be smiling.

"Obviously I love Spectrum Academy; I'm kind of giving my whole life to Spectrum Academy," Banner said with a laugh.

When most people say they are giving their whole life to their job, it can usually be brushed off as hyperbole. When Banner says it, she means it.

Banner said she could never imagine herself where she is today when her youngest son, Jackson, now 14, was diagnosed with autism.

"At that time, there was not a lot out on autism," Banner said. "I did not know anything."

Despite the fear and uncertainty that came with Jackson's diagnosis, Banner said a part of her was relieved.

"I though, OK, now we know what we're working with, let's try and figure this out," she said.

A couple years in the public school system left the Banners dissatisfied with the programs available for Jackson. Banner said the teachers were doing the best they could, but with such large classes of other students to tend to it was impossible for them to give Jackson the personal attention he needed.

Banner had worked as a dental assistant for years, but decided to go back to school to get a degree in special education. At the same time Jackson was accepted as a student at the Spectrum Academy in North Salt Lake, Banner was hired as a paraprofessional and then accepted as a teacher. With a long waiting list to get into the school, Banner said she felt like the stars had aligned for them both to get in together.

Eventually, Banner went back to school again to get a degree in administration, and last year served as the North Salt Lake school's principal. Now she's the principal of Spectrum's brand-new campus in Pleasant Grove.

Banner said she never would have imagined herself as the principal of a school for autistic students when Jackson was diagnosed. Going back to school not only changed her career, it helped her learn about her own son.

But it wasn't without its challenges.

"It was a long process for my whole family and for my older kids and everybody," Banner said. "They had to really step it up and do a lot of things so I could go back and get my degrees."

At the same time, having a child with autism has allowed Banner a greater insight into how to run a school like Spectrum than she would have had just from her own educational path.

"It just gives you an experience that I don't think anyone can have that doesn't do that every day," Banner said. "It also gives me, I think, a perspective on the parent's side, that understanding of how they're feeling and what they're going through and that anxiety. ... I've gone through all those different emotions."

What makes Spectrum Academy different is the individualization it's able to provide for its students. Class sizes are roughly a dozen students with a teacher and a paraprofessional. Almost all of the students are on Individualized Education Programs, or IEPs, which set specific goals for each student.

The small class sizes allow teachers to develop a deep, personal knowledge of each student's unique needs, and every summer the instructors spend countless hours to make sure students have a seamless transition to the next grade level.

The school also spends a half-hour every morning teaching social skills, with an emphasis on positive reinforcement on social cues throughout the day. The school has speech therapists, speech techs and occupational therapists on campus every day.

What it really comes down to, Banner said, is the passion the school's teachers and paraprofessionals have for helping the kids. The recipe has been remarkably successful and has made entrance into Spectrum a hot commodity.

The North Salt Lake school has approximately 560 students on a waiting list. The Pleasant Grove school, only a few months into its first year, has roughly 50.

Banner said the education provided by Spectrum has a profound effect on the students and their families. She recalled a parent of one student who had been unable to work when her child was in a public school because she would be called in to help nearly every day. Banner said the parent came into her office in tears and thanked her for giving her her life back.

"That's why I do it," Banner said. "That's why I put the long hours in and that's why my family is so supportive, because they've seen the hardship of it and they've seen how really tough it is some days to go through it and how tough it is on Jackson.

"These kids, they don't walk away from it ever, and we can. So we've got to look at it from that perspective."

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Good Kids!

  I don't think I praise my kids enough for the hard work they put into school.  I love it when I find little certificates like these
 Or test results like these

Or even emails like this.  I'm so proud of all of you!!!  Keep up the good work.  :)
Student Weekly Performance Report for Brody Walker
Date: 11/03/2014
Student No: 11093


Course No. Course Instructor Grade % Grade Citizenship Attendance Participation Performance
7490 Homeroom 5 Aaron Loveridge - - - Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory
7585 5 - Language Arts Aaron Loveridge - - - Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory
7588 5 - Social Skills Aaron Loveridge - - - Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory
7591 5 - Mathematics Aaron Loveridge - - - Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory
7594 5 - Language Arts II Aaron Loveridge - - - Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory
7597 5 - Science/Social Studies Aaron Loveridge - - - Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory
7600 5 - Interactive Math Aaron Loveridge - - - Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory
7603 5 - Science Aaron Loveridge - - - Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory
7729 5 - Handwriting Aaron Loveridge - - - Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory
7754 5 - Writing Aaron Loveridge - - - Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory
7789 Carpool Aaron Loveridge - - - Satisfactory Satisfactory Satisfactory  

Saturday, November 15, 2014

12 Years!

Stole this from my sister-in-laws facebook page.  Just wanted to congratulate them!  Love you guys.
"Celebrating 12 years of wedded bliss with my wonderful husband. Yes we froze at the BYU game but had a blast."

Friday, November 14, 2014

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Wait Just A Minute!

Can this be???
My son has grown taller then me?
I didn't think it was true, but Aaron made us stand back to back.
He has passed me up!
5'8.5" and he's not looking back.

FHE - Importance Of Keeping A Journal/Family History

We are starting a new tradition.  The second Monday of the month, we are having FHE with the Walker side of the family.  Aaron's sister RuthAnn gave us the first lesson last night.  We learned about the importance of keeping a journal/family history.  We got to read some entries from Grandpa Walker's journal.  Grandpa read me a post about Abby's birth.  He gave my mom some of his flyer miles so that she could meet Abby (Thank you Grandpa, that was special).
 All of us filled out a paper "about us."  The papers were filed away and are to be read in 5 years.  :)  Thank you for planning such a fun evening RuthAnn!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Kindergartener Of The Week

My sweet little Alyssa was nominated "Kindergartener of the Week" today. 

Alyssa is well behaved every day in class.  She tries hard in everything she does and is an expert at fixing mistakes in reading and writing.  We love having Alyssa at our school.