I am the mother of Bryce, a loving and kind 7-year-old who attends Hugh Cole School and was diagnosed last year with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Children with this diagnosis need patient, caring and loving educators who recognize how difficult it is for children with this disorder to focus in a stimuli-rich classroom environment. My biggest concern as a parent was that his teachers might not be attentive to his unique challenges, and unfortunately, my fears were realized during his kindergarten experience last school year. I witnessed my son work incredibly hard to overcome his challenges and focus without the support from the kindergarten teacher or the aid of medication.
As Bryce entered first grade last fall, I hoped for a teacher who would foster and support his growth, and my prayers were answered when he was placed in Mrs. Melissa Velleca's classroom. Mrs. Velleca is a teacher who inspirers children by understanding each child's individual abilities and strengths. She provides a safe and non-judgemental place for learning, which allows each child to develop at his or her own pace.
Despite Bryce's challenges associated with ADHD, he has thrived and achieved above grade average performance in all core subject areas. His ability to perform at such a level has surpassed my expectations. Through the efforts and commitment of teachers like Mrs. Velleca, students can achieve their full potential at all levels.
To illustrate this, on March 15, a female duck named "Lemon" was a guest in Bryce's first grade classroom. This duck was born with a degenerative disorder that rendered her legs very weak and unable to support her movements. Lemon was rescued by a teacher who used an ingenious supportive wheeled-brace to improvise her mobility. Lemon lives a very full life in Portmouth with this teacher.
Lemon visits classrooms in New England as an example to both children and adults of how to transform a physical disability into a symbol of strength and purpose. The story of "Lemon the Duck" has been chonicled in a children's book that bears her name. This classroom visit illustrated to the children the importance of respecting the abilities of others. Each child recieved a book to commemorate Lemon's classroom visit.
I was fortunate enough to experience, along with the students, this heart-warming event. The smiles on the children's faces were precious, and their sincere concern for Lemon's well being was priceless. This type of uncommon classroom learning is a common occurance in Mrs. Velleca's classroom and illustrates the lengths to which this teacher has gone to educate 24 fun-loving students at the Hugh Cole School.
As I begin to look back on my life, I can identify teachers who inspired me and were instrumental in my development. For my son, Bryce, that experience has happened this year in a very special class with a very special teacher. I am confident that when Bryce looks back on his early years and thinks about which teachers truly made a difference in his development, Mrs. Velleca will be at the top of that list. As this school year is coming to an end, the impact Mrs. Velleca has made on Bryce will carry on throughout his life.
My gratitude to her devotion to all her students, not only Bryce, is a testament to her vow as a teacher to have an impact on the lives of her students. The Bristol Warren Regional School District is extremely fortunate to have someone of her caliber teaching the children in our district.
Parent of Bryce Chace
1st grader at Hugh Cole School