Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Extended School Year

During the Summer I have a different role, instead of being a classroom teacher I am the administrator of an Extended School Year program for about 60 learners ages 3-22 with low incidence disabilities. We run five days a week, five hours a day for six weeks in a great camp location. The students are grouped by age and somewhat by homogeneously by ability into nine cabins with a teacher and a 1.5 to 1 student to staff ratio. The students swim/float daily in the pond and have opportunities for boating, fishing and arts and crafts in addition to the usual extended school year fare of (functional) academics, life skills, speech, occupation and physical therapy. We use a summer long theme (this summer is "All About Me"). Some of the older students run a camp store and run for camp mayor and assistant mayor (everybody who runs sits on camp council). Two of our cabins are high tech AAC cabins (at last count there were 11 or 12 dynamic display devices at camp), many of the others use moderate to low tech AAC and two cabins specialize in autism and related disorders. We have a total of five nurses serving our 60 campers this summer. I might be biased, but I think our program is amazing.

That is not to say it isn't with out its glitches.
  • We have had two Dynavox devices bite the dust in two days of camp, the first day a Dynavox V suddenly had a cracked LCD screen (luckily it is under warranty, unluckily it means a younster is stuck without a voice) and the second day a MiniMo decided it wasn't going to hold a charge and on occassion even turn off spontanesouly when plugged in (so now there are two voiceless youngsters).
  • I have had to change the swim schedule three times to accomodate nursing issues, therapy times and finally a shoratge of adaptive floatation devices. Changing swim times makes the grown ups very cranky!
  • Three times I have had to remove trespassers off the property. Kicking adults who should be able to read "No Trespassing" signs out of our camp, especially when they are taking off in our paddle boats makes ME very cranky!
  • the agency has always relied on me to use my laptop at camp, but this year it is just to broken to carry back and forth, so I brought my old desktop in and guess what happened? It broke today. I guess I will have to carefully bring the laptop with the broken hinge. I have a horrible feeling that by the end of the summer I may have NO computer of my own.
P.S. "something has to give" - I have debated posting this, but since June 6th I have been very ill with pneumonia. I managed to work for a while while I was being treated (I have a very high pain tolerance), but my efforts to keep working and fight it off lead me to miss the last week of school and then to be hospitalized from June 27th until July 1st. I have had three full courses of anti-biotics and am still finishing the fourth. I am also on two different inhaled steroids in an effort to heal my lungs. As a diabetic and someone with rheumatoid arthritis (both auto-immune diseases) I have a compromised immune system. I rarely get ill, but when I do I tend to get very ill. Add to this my sister's death in March, which I took very hard, and I guess my body just could not fight off this bacteria.

Although I now am working at the ESY program I am following doctors orders and only working 30 hours a week and sleeping/resting in bed 12+ hours a day. I may find I am too exhausted to post AND work now that ESY has started, please be patient until I am back on my feet again. I don't want this to drag on any longer than it already has. I definately want this cough, pain and exhaustion to be totally gone in time to go to my best friend's wedding in August and start school in September!


  1. You are an amazing and awesome person! I don't know how you do it all but please make sure that taking care of yourself is your #1 priority. None of what you are doing will mean anything if you kill yourself for it and what kind of example are you setting for the others. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers!

  2. Please take care of yourself and let your body and spirit heal. It will be sad not to see your words of wisdom daily but it will give me a chance to go back to the beginning of your blog and catch up. You are such a wonderful and inspirational person in this field. I pray some day to meet you in person and have a chance to pick your brain.

  3. Please take care and listen to your friends and family. I will pray for your recovery boyh mind and body.

  4. Hi Kate,
    You're in my thoughts and prayers and I'm sending well wishes your way for a speedy recovery. Take care of yourself girl!
    - Chris


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