A day of firsts

Waking up today I knew it would be a day of firsts: my first meeting to discuss a child’s IEP (individual education plan) was this morning and my first child study meeting (to discuss how to intervene with a child who’s struggling) was this afternoon.  What I didn’t know is that in between these meetings one of my students would provide an opportunity for another first: my first ride in an ambulance.

The student, AK, was last in line as we started to walk to music.  I was puzzled when I saw him run back into the classroom, but sent the class on, figuring he’d just forgotten something and would be right out.  He did come back out quickly, but he was crying and clearly panicky.  “I swallowed, I swallowed,” he kept repeating.  “You swallowed what,” I asked.  He finally gasped: “a quarter!”

“You swallowed a QUARTER?!”  I replied dumbly.

Luckily another teacher on my team heard me and said, “I’ve got your class, do what you need to do.”  So AK and I rushed down the hallway towards the clinic, with me asking him to keep talking while we walked so that I could make sure he could still breath.  About 3/4 of the way there he started throwing up, and another teacher immediately swooped in with a trash can to catch it.  We got to the clinic, explained what was wrong, and within about 10 seconds had the principal on the phone with 911, the assistant principal on the phone to the student’s mom, and a copy of his emergency care information ready for the EMTs.  The principal kept him distracted with long, crazy stories about other kids she’s known who swallowed coins and the clinic aide and I kept him cleaned up.  While I was at the hospital with him, one of the reading teachers picked my kids up from music, and another was ready to get them from lunch and dismiss them if I wasn’t back in time.

Despite some scary minutes of having the quarter stuck in his throat my student should be fine, and we left him at the ER in the capable hands of the doctors and his mother.

My takeaway from the day is an overwhelming appreciation for the other staff members at my school.  At every turn I had instantaneous, unquestioning help.  The only thing that mattered was taking care of my student, which included allowing me to be there to take care of him.  I know it might sound like the obvious or the right thing to do, and it is, but I’ve also worked in enough environments to know that this kind of matter of fact extension on behalf of another staff member or someone else’s kid isn’t always the norm.  I’m very grateful I ended up somewhere where it is.

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