I want to share my story, although quite long, this goes to show you that if we just give up on things easily and not fight for what we believe in, we cannot and will not see change. Also, let us, parents, be strong advocates for our children. Be their voice. If not us, who will?
Last Monday night, K’s band teacher called letting us know that K is too good on the violin so he cannot be a member of the school band. Thinking that this is some prank call, I asked the caller again, and she repeated “K is too good for the band”. I asked, “Tell me the logic of what you’re saying–discriminating my son from the band because he is too good? Know what, I’m going to hang up now because I might say something to you that I will regret later, obviously, I am too upset and dumbfounded about this!” “Would you like to talk to my director instead?” she asked. “No, I don’t want to talk to anyone except the principal tomorrow”. That was it.
No wonder they asked him to play his violin that first day of the band practice. I felt so bad because he came home so happy about playing for them. My poor little man!
The following day, I spoke to the principal and found out he doesn’t know about this.
Our conversation started with the usual “good morning pleasantries”, told him about the call the night before and that it is a travesty that my child is being discriminated from joining the band because he is too good; and the form they sent home with the kids to sign-up for the band doesn’t state “for beginners only”. I asked him if he would do that to his star player of the basketball team– tell him he is too good for the team so he shouldn’t be allowed to play.I also asked him to put himself in my child’s shoes and see how he feels being told he can’t join the band because he is too good. Devastated and confused, right? The school’s motto is “Do your best…be kind to others.” and what will K learn from this experience if we tell him— that the world is cruel and not to try to be the best because then he will be included in a team? Well, needless to say the principal was upset about this and more so, that this was done behind his back. He promised me that K_ will be included in the band and that he will make some phone calls.
In the meantime, I received this email from a certain Mr. V__:
Dear Mrs Steadman,
I just left you a phone message and thought I would try email as well. As I understand it K has a couple year of experience and is a very accomplished thus far. It is our feeling that at this time it would be best for K_ to continue his studies outside of school. As much as we would love to have K_ in our program, we do not feel it would be best for him and would possibly hold him back.
We can re-evaluate things in late January and see if there might be potential for small ensemble that could perform in the Spring. It is our hope to build the string program over time as we have the band program. Unfortunately it will be a couple years before we have an advanced string group.
Director of Education
P__ E__ Music
I didn’t respond until the principal called again and assured me that K is indeed in the band! Yes!
So then, I responded to the email:
As a former professor of medical students, I know better not to treat a student differently because of their accomplishments or if they are gifted. You embrace their talent or their gift, use them as a resource, maybe, to help the others. You don’t say to a star player of a basketball team that he/she is too good for the team, do you? You know, the school drills into their young minds their motto of “Do your best… be kind to others.”, and what do you think my child will learn from this experience if we told him he cannot join the band because he knows how to play the violin already– that the world is cruel and not to do his best so he can be included in a team?
We have shielded him from this experience, and my hope is that you or the band teacher do not treat him differently after this incident. And thankfully, as a good educator and principal, Mr. M___ upholds the school motto.
Rest assured that his private lessons are still on-going. The best thing is that my son does not see himself as different or better than his peers– he just wanted to be a part of a team and you almost denied him that experience.
I hope you understand where I am coming from.
I completely understand and I have been working on a solution to have an experienced class that Kerry can participate in. I spoke with the principal last night as well as my teachers and we should be good to go. I am very sorry about the stress this has caused.
Yup, came home from work today, went for a walk, pour me a glass of wine, toast that glass up to celebrate…little sweet victory, yeah!