Alex's education is my idea of a success story. Although my part in it wasn't always easy - the IEP meetings and misc. battles along the way - it was certainly a far cry from many of the horror stories I've heard, read, and seen, in the years since Alex started Grade 1 in 1993. For the most part Alex had great Teachers, excellent Teacher Aides and went to schools with good Administrations overseen by a decent School Board with good Special Ed. Coordinators. He also had a pretty great peer group, especially in the early years. I believe the foundation we laid in the beginning (Grades 1-3) with the help of an exceptional TA, paved the way for his future successes. All this, combined with his love for learning, made full integration in public school work for Alex and work beautifully.
Recently, one of these early influences, the Physical Education teacher who taught Alex from Grade 1-9 was honoured with a National Teaching Excellence Award which "recognizes physical education teachers for their hard work and dedication in helping to build strong, healthy and physically active children". Obviously, Mr. Matthews' teachings were not lost on Alex.
When Alex started school, Phys. Ed. was his most difficult class. It was totally overwhelming to his senses to be in the big, echo-ey, gymnasium with classmates noisily running around everywhere. Although he enjoyed it (he *loved* balls and anything to do with them from a very early age) the sensory bombardment was quite obviously overwhelming. (It's hard to play with a ball or anything else when your hands are firmly covering your ears....) As well, he still played more in parallel with his peers than with them and, for the first half of Grade 1 anyway, he hadn't started talking yet.
However, by the end of the year, Phys Ed became the one class Alex did not need a 1-1 TA in and from then on, right through High School, Alex always went to Phys. Ed. class independently. Credit goes to Dave Matthews for making the adaptations necessary to teach Alex in a way that accommodated his learning style, and Alex's peers, who helped with that by being the example, by always including and encouraging him, and by redirecting him and helping to keep in on task when necessary. It was Dave Matthews who encouraged Alex to participate in extracurricular sports in school; track and field and cross country running. There was no extra help supplied, Mr. Matthews took on coaching Alex like he did every other kid.
So thanx again Mr. Matthews for all you've done in the many years of teaching all my kids (the youngest one is just about to leave Gulf Shore). You guided the two on the autism spectrum into being quite the athletes. Alex's brother left Gulf Shore School with the Athlete of the Year award and continues to lead an active life in and out of High School. Although running is not his sport, he's joined Alex in a handful of RoadRunner races. They are indeed "strong, healthy and physically active children". I expect many more past and present students can say the same and have you to credit as well. Good teachers can make such a difference in a person's life....
Last updated at 12:26 AM on 03/05/07
Gulf Shore teacher wins national honour
Dave Matthews receives physical education teaching excellence award
OTTAWA - Dave Matthews of Charlottetown has been named the P.E.I. recipient of the physical education teaching excellence award.
Presented by the Canadian Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance, the award honours up to 13 exceptional teachers (one per province and territory) for their excellence in teaching physical education and their ability to motivate children and youth to participate in physical activity.
It is the only national award in Canada which recognizes physical education teachers for their hard work and dedication in helping to build strong, healthy and physically active children.
Matthews is a physical education teacher at Gulf Shore school in North Rustico.
As an integral member at the school, he is an energetic motivator for his students who incorporates many new ideas to hold the interest of his students.