Zoe Forbes Full Speech

My name is Zoe Forbes. I have a son in Gifford’s lower school.  Before coming to Gifford my family and I felt stuck. We couldn't find a way to access an appropriate education for our son. It seemed as if a giant mountain stood before us but we couldn't even get to the base to start climbing. When our school system approved an out of district placement, we decided on the Gifford School. It was an important milestone in our journey but we knew there would be a lot of hard work ahead. Getting a placement at Gifford allowed us to start our trip up the mountain.

Every climber encounters delays, setbacks, even scary falls.  But being here is like having a safety net made up of caring, experienced hands. And after each delay, setback or fall, those hands pull our kids back up to continue the climb. It is especially at these challenging times that I appreciate being here at Gifford. Educators, social workers, and administrators sit down with you to find a way for your child to succeed. And then you begin to relax a bit because you know you don’t have to figure this all out on our own.

I am continuously struck by the fact that the people here are as invested as we are in the success of our son. Each member of the Gifford team get to know who your child is at school, at home, and in the community, and use that knowledge to tailor a specialized approach to the individual needs of each student. One parent told me that at times she thinks people here know her child better than she does because they put their hearts into getting to know each individual. They take this knowledge and use it to inform decisions on class composition, approaches to peer relations, academic strategies, and emotional growth.  And all this shows in the progress our kids make at Gifford.  Our kids are learning how to be students, how to be respectful and tolerant peers and how to be productive members of the community.

The people at Gifford give us strength to continue our journey up the mountain. There will always be more for each of us and our children to learn and new ways in which to grow. The important thing is to keep climbing. We are lucky to be here at Gifford for this part of the ascent. 

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