By Samuel Charles Sennott
Please listen to the NPR interview with Daniel Habib about the new documentary Including Samuel. See the documentary website.
Every once in a while something really hits you, something really speaks to you. This month marks ten years since I walked through the doors of The Michael Carter Lisnow Respite Center. I am so thankful that they accepted me as a volunteer, then staff member. I remember being at the crafts table starting out, helping. I remember the children I held, that I chased after on the playground, the individuals that I helped feed, the terrific outings that we took to the movies, bowling, and more. A most special thing in this world is to feel loved, accepted, and part of a community. The Respite Center is that. When you walk in those doors you feel love. It may be in the form of a question like, “Do you have a car, a dog…?” It may be in the fun and joy the children and adults experience at the center. It may be the feeling the parents have knowing their children are safe, cared for and all together having a terrific time. It may be the joy of service the remarkable staff experience. However it manifests, you feel it.
When I listened to the NPR interview with Daniel Habib this evening, I was deeply moved by it. After a couple listens, I was intrigued by the statement made by the Syracuse Dean saying the most inclusive place was the family. I recognize the power and insight of that statement.
A defining question for an educator is what would you want for your child. It is a question that cuts deep through façade.
The love and acceptance felt at the Michael Carter Lisnow Respite Center in Hopkinton is exemplary. It is like having a second family. Hearing in the interview how much Samuel’s family love and accept him is such a message. It is the same message that I heard from two parents as I closed out my time spent at the ASHA Convention this year. It is that they love their children and want the best for them. As I walked out with one of them, it put everything back into perspective. It made me feel in a way like I was back at the Respite Center with the families and their children.
This interview, although short, brings up the defining question in our field, “How do we seek this ‘best’?” First off it is an endless question. We will always be learning how to be better teachers, create better schools, and grow as people. Yet, the question of inclusion is real. It is a question I realize that I will now seek in an even more focused and tangible way. Yet, at the end of the day, it comes down to what Samuel’s mother said in the interview, that she did not want to be his therapist, but just his mother. It is also the same as what I heard from another parent that what good is it to be “smart”… if you don’t have any friends.
So to close this post, not the question, I reflect on this concept of family. You heard about the Respite Center. You heard about Samuel’s family and you heard about a few other caring parents. At ASHA we heard from the teacher in LA who worked in the hood and helped a group of high school students use writing to change themselves. I feel very strongly that we must come to realize that it is quite inappropriate to see this question as them and us. It is a question of we, because of that indiscriminate question, “What would you want for your child?’
Please listen to the NPR interview with Daniel Habib about the new documentary Including Samuel. Check out a twelve-minute clip of the movie here.
Video Podcast of this Entry in Memory of Michael.
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