School Milestones

Posted on: June 4th, 2015 by

As today is Ari’s last day of school, it is only fitting that today I reflect upon this extraordinary school year.

As my readers know, last year Ari did not thrive in an accelerated private school, so this year we switched to the local public school. Great things have happened to Ari this year, and I am grateful.

Ari immediately loved her first grade teacher. I remember the day I walked away from the school, only to find myself in tears because I worried about Ari’s first day at a new school with a new teacher. When I met Ari at the end of that first school day and asked her how it went, she gave a thumbs up. From that point on, things went smoothly all year.

Her first grade teacher was amazing. Over this academic year, we’ve e-mailed each other about Ari’s academic progress and spoke on the phone, as well as in person. When Ari stressed out about timed math tests, her teacher and I worked together as a team to alleviate my daughter’s stress. And it worked! A sensitive girl, Ari also had confidence problems with reading at a certain level, so her teacher and I worked hard to ensure that my daughter was comfortable and succeeded.

In fact, Ari succeeded in ways I couldn’t envision on the first day of school.

Ari the Artist

During the year, Ari’s artwork was selected, along with the artwork of other students all over the district, to be on display at a local museum. A special event at the museum’s gallery celebrated Ari and the other artists. As we headed to the museum, I told Ari how proud I was of her. She said, “But mom, I don’t draw and paint as well as you.” And I responded, “My artwork was never in a museum, and you are only six and yours has already made it into a museum.” She smiled, quite proud of outdoing her mama.

And we had great fun at the gallery-opening celebration, socializing with her fellow artists and their families. And there was an awesome cake and other yummy treats!

Art Gallery

Ari learned so many important life lessons this year. But if I had to choose the most important lesson she learned, it would be to try one’s hardest and to seize any available opportunities.

A Young Author’s Contest was announced about a month after the gallery visit, and there was a call for fiction and non-fiction stories. Each grade in each participating school would have a winner. Winning entries would be bound in a book that would be available in the schools’ libraries.

Arielle had no intention of entering the contest, as she perceived writing as hard work to be avoided whenever possible. I cajoled and encouraged her to enter the contest anyway, telling her, “If you don’t enter, you definitely won’t win. If you enter, you might win, but even if you don’t, at least you tried your best.” She still resisted, but with my continuous support and persuasion (OK, I was a bit of a pest), she finally relented.

She chose to write about her pet goldfish. She wrote it on attractive paper and did the illustrations for it. And then we forgot about the contest.

Until the unthinkable-to-Ari happened: She won the contest for her grade level.

As the principal announced the winners, Ari was shocked to receive applause by her teacher and peers. When I asked her what lesson she learned from this experience, Ari said, “You never know what you can do until you try your hardest. You were right, mom.” (I realize I won’t hear the words “You were right, mom” very often, so I savored this, too.)

She was bussed to a special event honoring the writers, where she learned more about writing and left with a plethora of information and writing exercises, as well as a list of more writing contests for kids. I told my daughter, “Why not enter these contests? Whether or not you win, it’s a great experience.” And Ari nodded an emphatic “yes.”

Ari having her picture taken with her winning story

Ari having her picture taken with her winning story

Overall, this year was a major milestone for Ari. It was heart-warming to be a part of a school that made learning fun, supported its students, and doled out positive reinforcement, while teaching students socialization skills. Last year at this time, she left the private school with her self-confidence barely intact.

This year in the new school she did more than just survive.

She thrived.


Do you have any great school stories to share? I would love to hear yours.

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10 Responses to School Milestones

  1. Nancy's Point had this to say about that:

    Hi Beth,
    I loved reading this post. I am so happy Ari had a wonderful year in first grade. First grade should be wonderful! As should all the other grades, too, of course. You must be so proud of her. And having her artwork showcased in a museum and winning a writing contest, wow, how special. Public schools are still doing a great job for the most part. I believe in them. I’d say the year was a success indeed. Now enjoy your summer and get ready for second grade!

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Thank you, Nancy. I am breathing huge sighs of relief; the year was better than I could have ever imagined. I agree that school should be a wonderful experience. Learning should be fun.

      I’m very proud of her, indeed.

      I agree that public schools are doing an excellent job in so many respects. I went through the public school system and found they did a nice job.

      Yikes about second grade! I can’t believe she’ll be seven soon. It seems like yesterday she was only a baby.

  2. Rebecca had this to say about that:

    Beth — Congrats to you and your daughter! These accomplishments really belong to the both of you.

    I bet this experience will inspire her to do more for herself. Opportunities like these really encourage kids to grow and feel like they belong to something — that they can be part of something. I am happy she is happy at her new school.

    I don’t have any kids but I remember when I was growing up it was tough for so many reasons: catholic school was hard, third-world country is even harder, preference for the rich kids, social status was important, etc. So all my accomplishments were made after I moved to the states, where everyone at school was viewed as being equal. All I can say is I never gave up. And I am glad I didn’t. (Had a wonderful mama supporting me.)

    Your daughter has a lot of support and opportunity. I believe she will do well because now she believes in herself. All thanks to you.

    I hope you two are celebrating. xx

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Rebecca, thank you for your comment. I am really hoping that this experience will help her grow as a student. She’s grown so much emotionally that it’s wondrous.

      Sounds like your schooling was tough, indeed. And I’m so glad your mom supported you so nicely.

      Thank you for giving me credit for Arielle’s successes. We both worked so hard for this, and I’m hoping to keep the momentum going for next year.

  3. Eileen@womaninthehat had this to say about that:

    You are obviously such a nurturing mother and I love pictures of Ari. She’s so adorable!

  4. Renn had this to say about that:

    Fabulous post! Proud of you both!

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Hi Renn,

      Thank you! All the hard work paid off this year. We are both very satisfied with how the year went. :)

  5. Kathi had this to say about that:

    Oh, this is soooo wonderful! Dear Ari! Dear you! You are lucky to have each other. These sorts of unexpected successes stay with a child forever. It’s only when we risk failure that we have a chance to succeed Love, love, love. :)

    • Beth L. Gainer had this to say about that:

      Thank you so much, Kathi! I love what you said about risking failure causing us to “have a chance to succeed.” So very true! It was a really great year for both of us in terms of achieving success.

      I’m hoping Ari will look back on this year fondly. :)

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