Thanks to new teacher, our son is getting the grade he deserves

Dear Editor:

My wife is a lifelong resident of Hoboken. I am a former New Yorker who moved to this wonderful city seven years ago. We are working parents who have three children in the Hoboken School system. Our oldest child, David, has been in the special education department for the past five years. The first four years of his schooling where filled with false hopes, promises and inflated grades.

My wife and I are very involved in our children’s lives (educationally, athletically and socially). David would come home with honor role certificates, straight A’s and B’s, and student of the month certificates. However, ask David about the assignment he just did so well on…. He would have no idea! David did not comprehend what was being taught; he simply wasn’t learning. We meet with the teachers, had meetings with the principals, even had a conference with the superintendent of schools and the head of the special education program, but they had no answers for us.

At the end of his fifth un-graded year, we learned of a new special education teacher coming to Hoboken from Jersey City with high credentials.

We meet with our son’s case manager, Mr. Tom Fitzgibbons, and expressed our interest in having David in her class for this year. Although no one else was willing to transfer him to this teacher’s class, Mr. Fitzgibbon’s pushed the issue as per our request, and assured us that David would have a place in Ms. Grace Orellano’s classroom the next school year.

We could have never imagined what would happen next.

David received “real” homework everyday of the week. Ms. Orellano gives the children assignment sheets every evening stating what the homework is for each evening, how much parent involvement is required, the grades for the test that school day, which all must be signed by the parent… everyday.

We received David’s first report card, and progress report this November and we were shocked and delighted at the same time. David received his first “D” in six years. A grade that he actually earned and deserved. This may seem odd for a parent to be pleased about their child receiving a D grade, but for us, this meant that his new teacher would not “fluff” grades just to satisfy the parent, moreover, to satisfy the educational system!

David is doing assignments, reports, even projects that we never though could be possible for him to achieve. To the dismay of the child study team, and David’s former educational providers, David is learning, and is enjoying school, with the exception of the occasional peer problem here and there.

The main reason for this letter is to emphasize our gratitude to Ms. Grace Orellano, for taking the time to work with our child, and for working with us, his parents, We would also like to thank Mr. Fitzgibbons for making sure that David would be placed in her class so that he could finally receive an education.

It has been our experience that there are not many educational providers, or educational officials that will go the extra mile for their students, but we have been fortunate to have met those two people.

Let’s all hope that the recent changes in the Board of Education elections will not jeopardize their positions, or the education that our son, and the other children in the special education program rightfully deserve.

Joseph and Susan Bretano


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