DANCING IN THE RAIN

amy-headshot-2Submitted by Amy Ruocco, Landmark School parent

We are all faced with challenges in life, but how successfully we navigate through those challenges largely depends on how capable we view ourselves to be. Dyslexic children learn fairly early on that their peers are able to conquer tasks that are seemingly insurmountable to them. Even the brightest students find themselves shirking opportunities to participate in class for fear of being wrong or worse, different. Unfortunately, many of these students find themselves focusing all their energy on their weaknesses. Unless these children are allowed to also celebrate their strengths, they will find it hard to develop confidence in their own abilities.

Andrew RuoccoOur son Andrew is a very bright, inquisitive, little guy, but not long after beginning first grade, we noticed his light was dimming. His love of school first turned into like, but after a while, it turned into dread. It wasn’t until Andrew began going to Landmark that we saw his light begin to return. Day by day, we felt our son was coming back to us.

One day after school, Andrew was especially eager to ask me something. As soon as he saw me he said “Mom, Landmark is having a talent show. Can I do it?” Of course, I said yes immediately. Naturally, I assumed he would choose to play the guitar, since he had been doing so since the age of four. However, when asked, he replied, “Nope, I want to dance.” “Dance, did he really just say he wanted to dance?” Since dancing was something Andrew would have previously avoided out of fear of embarrassment, I asked again for clarification. Of course, he confirmed that I had heard him correctly and began deciding what form of dance to perform. At that moment, I was both thrilled and scared to death. Here we were. Andrew was finally feeling at home again. He felt smart and liked and… happy. Although I feared what could happen if Andrew’s performance was not, shall we say, appreciated, I feared more what would happen if we did not support his decision.

The day of the performance, my hands were sweating and my heart was in my stomach. “Please let this go well,” I kept telling myself. Andrew proudly stepped out on the stage and began to dance. The more he danced, the more I relaxed, because I knew that Andrew was truly confident and happy. He finally felt safe enough to put himself out there in front of his peers and fortunately, they did not let him down. The support Andrew received that day was absolutely amazing. In fact, I would call it life-changing and he would too.

No one is able to get through life without challenge. In fact, many times, the challenges we face allow us to discover our strengths. Children, however, need to be reminded that their challenges do not define them. When provided with the opportunity to also showcase their gifts, and feel the praise that comes from doing so, children will begin to experience themselves as capable. The byproduct of those experiences is confidence, which is an essential ingredient in the formula for academic and social success. Looking back now, I find it somewhat metaphorical that Andrew chose “Singing in the Rain” as his performance piece. While some would seek shelter from the storm, Andrew chose to “dance” in the rain that day.

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13 Responses to DANCING IN THE RAIN

  1. Amy Ruocco says:

    Thank you Landmark School for inviting me to share Andrew’s experience with your readers. We are so incredibly grateful for everything your amazing staff has done to help Andrew rediscover his “abilities” this year.

  2. Bonnie Haley says:

    Beautifully told, Amy! My family can relate to your family. When our children are given positive reinforcement in their daily environments, it makes a huge world of difference. I’ve often told parents that “I got my son back” after he attended a schooling environment that understood him and gave him the resilience to learn again. Thank you to Landmark and The Carroll Schools for getting it!

  3. Shiela Demers says:

    Love it!! Skylur and I just watched before she heads off to school. We were both smiling. Great way to start the day!.
    Shiela Demers

  4. Tom Underwood says:

    Amy, thanks for writing this. Andrew was incredible that day and, as you remember, the “crowd went wild!” Tom Underwood, EMS Counselor

  5. georganna el heneidy says:

    loved it!!! made my day…mrs.el heneidy,r.n.
    gene kelly would jump for joy

  6. rachelorie says:

    Oh my gosh, he is amazing! Thanks for sharing this, it’s such a joy to see him performing so boldly and joyfully!

  7. Erin Moreira says:

    That was so well written, it brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for sharing your story!

  8. Nancy Shrier says:

    Thanks for sharing! Smiling from ear to ear… So great when these kids can be in a place where they are comfortable being themselves. Well put!

  9. What an amazing and charming young man !

  10. Beth Jamieson says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this video and this story! It was so much fun watching him light up the room.

  11. Randy Royster and Maria Griego-Raby says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts as a parent and the amazing video of your son. It encourages all of us who want our children to feel “safe” and happy amongst their peers. My wife and I have great hopes our son who only began at Landmark as a Junior in High School will “get there”.

  12. Not only is it wonderful to see a child…anybody…dare to do perform and present to others something they are so amazingly passionate about, the child is also an incredibly talented dancer. He is incredible. Get him on stage!!! I’d love to watch him again. Thank you for sharing.

  13. Stephanie Johnston says:

    Amy, I loved your story and the video of magnificent Andrew performing. He exudes joy, and you have changed the course of his life forever – wonderful!

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