When my son, Daniel, entered the Parkside brownstone seven years ago he was timid as a mouse. When introduced to Ms. Miller during his interview, he fell to the ground like a rag doll. My heart skipped a beat, but instantly Ms. Miller dropped down next him. She said something sweet to him and next they ascended the stairwell together, hand in hand. This was the first of countless days when Daniel felt supported, took a risk, and gained new skills. Parkside has helped Daniel reach his greatest potential. He is leaving his beloved school next month confident as a lion.
In the first several years it was excruciating for Daniel to participate in the special visitor’s assemblies. For two years it was an accomplishment getting himself into the room. His team (teachers, therapists, and co-founders) problem solved along the way, devising action plans that involved preparation, modifications, and nurturing. No one ever gave up on him even though he was a tough case. Every play and musical gave him experience and resilience. In time, Daniel developed greater speech, language and social emotional skills that enabled him not only to be present but also to perform. His scaffolds were peeled back. Over six years, the class performed many classics like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Peter Pan, and Aladdin. Along the way Daniel discovered a passion for performance. This April, Daniel -- the boy who could hardly make it into the room a few short years ago -- performed a solo from Les Misérables. He stood effortlessly on the stage and boomed out his lines with vigor. I was so moved at seeing how far he had come I began sobbing. After the performance when I said goodbye to Albina and Leslie, the three of us cried together. This dramatic arc of progress in Parkside students is what defines Parkside’s educational mission.
I am grateful to Parkside for giving Daniel the personalized education and therapies to move him from timid mouse into a confident lion. Parkside has a 33-year legacy of transforming students like Daniel with speech and language delays into competent learners; students who can identify issues and problem solve, and even find passions and talents.
Every year at this time, Parkside families band together in support of the Annual Fund as we strive to reach a fundraising goal of $750,000 that will enable Parkside to fund its teacher and therapist salaries, pay for professional development so that teachers may further excel, and retain consultants to expand our science, reading and social emotional programming and more.
I hope you will join me in making the most generous contribution you can to The Parkside School Annual Fund before June 30th, 2019. The school needs to fund a $22,000 gap per student, outstanding from the DOE subsidy, so your donation will make a huge impact and carry great meaning for our children.
While we have celebrated every milestone Daniel has achieved -- reading, writing research reports, maintaining lasting friendships, playing chess and singing in the chorus -- he is not a unique success story at Parkside. Parkside has helped Daniel, his friends, and hundreds of alumni that came before them reach their greatest potential. At the Moving On Ceremony, every student says “At first it was hard, but Parkside helped me figure out how to achieve.” They all leave strong, determined and confident with the academic and life skills to succeed. Daniel has been given priceless gifts that will forever serve him.
Co-Chair, Annual Fund