Panel 2 Speaker: Mendy Gomez - Parent (AZ)

RTI Leadership Forum
Washington, DC
December 8, 2010


Mendy Gomez: Well, first of all I just want to thank everyone.  Is the mic on?  Thank you.  First of all I just want to thank everyone from NCLD for inviting me.  As a parent (clears throat), excuse me, of child with learning disabilities and as someone who advocates for education I appreciate being invited and this is truly a dream come true so thank you very much.  I’m sorry.  I’m incredibly nervous (laughs).  I don’t do this very often.  As I was reading through Dr. VanDerHeyden’s paper, there was two things that struck me.  One was the comments that she makes about the under emphasis on intervention management.  I thought, and with regards to this is what happened in our former district.  I’m going to be kind of comparing where we were to where we are now.  And the second point is the 40% mortality rates that she references and I kind of viewed this as in terms of education and I thought why is 40% failure acceptable?  And I thought well, what makes success?  One is strong leadership.  That’s a message that has resonated throughout the morning.  And it’s from the top down.  In the Vail School district, they truly have one goal in mind which is success of a child.  In the boardroom and throughout the district office there hang several posters that are 3 ½ feet by 5 feet that says “Everything we do affects the life of a child.”  That message is carried out with each and every employee of the district, from our superintendent down to our custodians.  And I’ve seen this message lived out firsthand.  (laughs nervously)  Excuse me.  I will get emotional here.  See my son is a 5th grader (fighting tears) at Oak(unclear) Ridge and he has learning disabilities and struggled with reading and writing and has since the age, really, at the age of three.  In the span of one year, he has gone from a 3rd grade reading level to a 5th grade reading level.  (applause)

That doesn’t happen by chance.  It’s because of the manageable classroom sizes, because of the early intervention programs, because encouragement from his parents, his classroom teachers, his resource teachers, his principals—every aspect of the employees at his school—he’s been able to succeed.  In our former district, I was told by our school psychologist not to expect much.  I was told that he will probably be no more than a C or D student.  You see, last year he earned all As and one B, all four quarters.  In just a few, just at the beginning of this school year I was told, my husband and I were told at his IEP meeting that he no longer qualifies for resource.  That he needs to go back into a regular ed class.  I was amazed.  I was truly amazed.  I spent four years at, in a district with him and never was the goal to get him back into the regular ed class.  The goal was to keep him as a status quo.  It wasn’t our goal.  It was the district’s, our former district school.  You see, I’m often asked why I advocate for education and the Vail School district.  I mean after all, I’m just a Mom (voice unsteady).  I’m just trying to raise my children to be productive citizens.  I’m not raising, trying to raise geniuses.  I’m just trying to raise productive citizens.  I really don’t want my son living with me at the age of 25 (laughter).  I love him dearly but …   You know, I have seen the success firsthand of what intervention management can do.  I’ve seen amazing things that this district does, and the effects that this district has on a life of a child.  I see it every day on my son’s face, of the successes that he has, of the attitude that he can conquer the world.  And that’s why I am often asked why I advocate.  It’s because of my son and the successes that he has.  He is my role model (voice breaks).  So thank you.  (applause)


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