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Mrs. Goodrich, 4-8 Special Education: Reading Groups & Update on Connor’s Journey

Mandy Goodrich

October 15, 2014

    The 4th grade My Sidewalks reading group has just completed their first reading unit of the year, “Turning Points”.  In the 4th grade unit, the students explore a story titled Walking for A Cure.  After reading the story as a group, we discuss the reasoning behind walkers and runners challenging themselves to walk or run a distance in order to raise money for organizations and research.  Students had a hard time understanding why a person would travel across the United States for a cure, some would ask, “How does running a race help cure people with cancer?”  Students learned that sponsors or individuals make a pledge to donate money when the runner participates in the race, then these donations are given to doctors and scientists to help fund more research towards finding the cure.  It can be a difficult concept for these young minds to comprehend.  I shared my son Connor’s story with these students to help make personal connections with our reading material.
    The 5th graders have begun their second unit this week, “Doing the Right Thing”.  This week we read an article titled Volunteers Make a Difference.  This article teaches about charities and organizations (both words are included in our weekly vocabulary) such as Locks of Love, Make-A-Wish, and Livestrong.  Students like to share stories of family or friends who are cancer survivors, and I enjoy telling my son’s story of beating cancer.  The students really make a personal connection with this article.  They get to see pictures of Connor, a real boy, and the tremendous journey he had no choice of taking.
    Our 7th grade STAR group is listening to a read aloud with Mrs. Philippi, Drums, Girls & Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick.  This is a fictional story of a young boy who is diagnosed with and being treated for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, told from the perspective of his older brother.  This same group of 7th graders has been following my son Connor’s journey through chemotherapy treatment since they were in 4th grade reading and math groups in my classroom.
    This book has made the understanding of Connor’s journey more real to them.  It has branched out with discussions of how cancer can so quickly effect someone’s life.  
    My son Connor has been fighting Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) since June of 2011; he was diagnosed at two and a half years old.  Many in the JCC community have been following him along his journey with words of hope and encouragement, special gifts to brighten his days, and inquiring questions.  This October Connor is officially DONE with his three year treatment plan!  He had his last IV chemo treatment in September and swallowed the last of his at-home chemo pills last week!   He will continue to have monthly checkups at Children’s Hospital in Omaha for the next 12 months, with fewer checkups each subsequent year, until finally he will have only annual checkups.  If the next three months go as planned, Connor will be able to have his port removed this coming January or February.  His doctors do not foresee any complications or long term issues, however, they can’t promise what will come next.  ALL patients can relapse, however, it is not common.  Connor is proud to have finished!    
    We thank our JCC family and friends for the continuous support! Nothing has gone unnoticed.  
    Mandy Goodrich, 4-8 Special Education Teacher

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