Site hosted by Build your free website today!

Letter to the Editor of 'What's on in Haddonfield'

Bancroft Adds to Haddonfield 11/19/01

To the Editor:

Through the schools (Tatem to HMHS), the sports programs (soccer squirts to varsity field hockey), and musical events (marching band to Madrigals), I feel that my family is truly part of Haddonfield. My parents moved here 20 years ago to provide a safe, clean place for their children to grow and learn. But not all parents can give that to their children by simply moving to a safe town with good public education. How can a child learn when he has a disability? For all the good of Haddonfield public schools, they are simply not prepared with the staff, money, or equipment required to teach special needs children, but Haddonfield goes beyond its public schools to support Bancroft School so that all children can be given excellent educations.

I remember at sporting events, the opposing teams would accuse Haddonfield of being snobby. It is true that many of Haddonfield's families have money and good jobs, but snobby has a further connotation of looking down on people with less ability and/or less money. In our town, I've seen numerous acts of kindness to classmates, neighbors, and strangers alike so I believe we are not snobby. But how do I prove to strangers that people in Haddonfield do care and do want to help? I think Bancroft is proof in itself. The great stigma attached to special needs people stops many towns from letting Bancroft in, but we have welcomed them.

I volunteered in high school and was later employed in the summers at Bancroft. I now take a break from my studies at Johns Hopkins to work one-on-one with a student in a young, autistic class. Working closely with the immediate care staff (teachers, teachers' assistants, and one-on-ones), I've seen a dedication to and love of the students that is rare. Did you ever have a teacher who you thought truly cared about you and was so proud when you succeeded? I think many of the Bancroft employees are those special teachers, those ones who really care.

I have worked with a range of children, from small ones who are learning letters and hoping to be mainstreamed to older ones who are still working on toileting routines. The firsthand experience in behavioral psychology dims in comparison to the joy I receive when a student says my name for the first time or even just makes eye contact and smiles.

I hesitate to speculate on the problems between the Borough of Haddonfield and Bancroft Neurohealth, but I would like for Bancroft and Haddonfield to speak together and reconcile their differences, to solve the problems of traffic, etc. Bancroft adds to Haddonfield and makes it a place where every child can grow and learn in a safe, clean environment.

I know the awkwardness you may have when a Bancroft student approaches you in the CVS or King's Court. I myself often feel that I lack the 'right' words. Don't worry; Bancroft staff is there to provide proper support for the student. Just treat the student as you would anyone else; a simple hi and smile is just right.

Mary Kuykendall