Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Happy News Comes Through

I've mentioned before that the homepage on my computer is Happy News. This way, first thing every morning, I read an article or two about people doing good things...returning lost money, rescuing dogs, raising awareness of social needs, and so forth.

Much better than starting a day with angry political rhetoric or disaster-mongering, fear-inducing stories, wouldn't you say?

Today's lead story on Happy News is about a high school student named Jack Hishmeh who crossed a line when he walked into the special needs classroom at his school last fall. He didn't like seeing the students in that classroom--with obvious disabilities like cerebral palsy and Down syndrom--so isolated from the rest of the school, so he stepped over the line that divided them.

Next thing you know, he had friends joining him across that imaginary line.

Next thing you know, he rearranged his classes to make time to be a formal peer mentor and get those students out of their classroom and into the lunch room with all the other students. He showed that the line didn't mean a thing.

Next thing you know, he was hoofing it to area businesses asking for donations and help to spruce up the classroom, which was in an appalling state.

Next thing you know, he is the change he wants to see in the world.

Our school district here in Ohio does a lovely job with inclusion. Our Jack, who has autism, has been in an inclusion environment from the beginning at the developmental preschool. I forget how unusual that is, how many school districts warehouse students with special needs away from the main student body because it's easier, cheaper, more convenient to lock them away.

God bless Jack Hishmeh for crossing that line and bringing those students into the larger school community.

Doesn't news like that restore your faith in the goodness of humanity?

Thank you, Jack Hishmeh.


  1. great story and love the idea of starting the day with happy news. what a great kid. Of course the LAW requires that children with disabilities be educated to the maximum extent possible in the "least restrictive environment." Just saying!

  2. Because of you mentioning this news site a while ago, I added it to my iGoogle homepage and really enjoy reading the positive articles. Thanks!

  3. Yes it does and thank you for sharing the news and the link to HappyNews! I think we all need to read the HappyNews instead of the regular news! The latter does nothing but spread negativity all around. Every time we switch on the local news channel either it's always about murder, robbery, etc.

  4. As you well know, Joan, districts play fast and loose with "least restrictive environment." Often, it requires having aides available to help these children in inclusion environments, and districts don't want to pay for that. It's cheaper to warehouse.

    Several districts neighboring ours have sent teams to observe how our district handles inclusion. We do MUCH more inclusion than most districts, and yet our district spends less per child than those neighboring districts. With thought and planning, inclusion works beautifully. That's the main reason we've stayed here in this district.

  5. It is heartwarming to know that there are KIDS who care about other kids, despite them being "different". This young man will go far in life with his drive and caring attitude!

  6. What a great story...the best is that it was a STUDENT who saw a need for change and did it! Inclusion is a must for students with disabilities for social and communication skills alone. I'm working on that now in my new job. Many districts just don't get it.



Thanks so much for taking time to comment!