Saturday, March 20, 2010

Comfort Cup

 Cup of the Day #8
India ink on cardboard cup
 by Gwyneth Leech, 2010

On a recent weekday morning I am headed to the studio to paint. First, I run down to Lab Middle school in Chelsea, where my elder daughter Megan is an eighth grader, to attend a parents' "coffee chat" called advocating for your child with special needs. Megan, who is a general-ed student and a high achiever, is headed for Stuyvesant High School next year. I am at the meeting with my six year old daughter Grace in mind. She has Down Syndrome and is only in first grade but I want to know what lies ahead.

The boxed brew on the table is from Amys' Bread in Chelsea Market and it tastes very good today. As the meeting goes on and the leader talks about parents' rights, LSE, IEP, SETS, team meetings, mediation, arbitration, bumping down and schools trying to pass your hot potato child out of the the system I drain my cup and draw all over it. It helps me concentrate and makes me feel better.

The parents around me are full of anxiety and questions. They are facing middle school and high school issues. But the leader is full of sage advice and helpful strategies, chief among them is to identity early on what your child's passion is and steer him or her that way through the education system, because children will excel where they are most engaged.

Hey, that's why I am an artist! I wasn't a competent reader until 3rd grade and drawing was always where I shone at school and at home. Grace is the same way and scores above grade level in art and music (as opposed to her reading and math level which I rather not mention). I recently did a collage sketchbook combining her drawings from the past several years with mine. It is currently on tour with the Art House Coop Sketchbook Project. I believe Grace has a bright future with her art skills. As for her outstanding skills with a hula hoop, we are not sure yet where that might lead.

 Sketchbook Collaboration
Grace Wilson and Gwyneth Leech
Ink and collage, 2009

 Grace Hula Hooping in Central Park
3/21 - World Down Syndrome Day

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