He completed the mission, reached the right flank, and dropped to the ground, unhurt. “Shuttinger was our smallest man,” declared a comrade, “but he had the heart of a lion.”
—Southern Storm: Sherman’s March to the Sea, by Noah Andrew Trudeau
Today some things called Those Dang ASPPs were due to Lurlene from all the teachers. ASPP is short for Academic and Social Progress Program. Every student has a big, orange, personal file and inside is all the academic and diagnostic information about the student from the day they began at the school, and even items from their old school.
Every teacher has to update the ASPPs of the students in their homeroom and it takes about an hour to do a good job on one and everybody’s got about ten to twelve kids in their homeroom. That's why teachers call them Those Dang ASPPs.
When it’s ASPP time in September everybody sort of whines about it. It’s important work, but there’s definitely some whining, so the school gives us all half of a day off on a Friday in September to not go home early but to get started on their dang ASPP updating.
You update anything and everything in a whole bunch of areas within the last year. For some kids, a lot. For others, hardly anything significant at all. Then there’s the section called Summary where the teacher gets to write like a psychologist. You get to write, free-form, for as long as you want, about what the student is doing right now. What you observe and feel about him as an eighth grader in our school right now. Describe the student like crazy, Lurlene says.
While you’re writing your Summaries you know the only audience is Lurlene and the kid’s teachers next year if the student continues at the school. That’s a small but deeply interested audience.
For Lurlene, she likes to experience your powers of observation and accuracy and the woman will definitely tell you if you have not captured the kid’s current essence because she knows them well, too, since so many of them spend a good bit of time in her office.
For the teachers ahead, Spike’s in particular, you write for their future … you go ahead and answer their inevitable questions about Spike.
After reading my ASPP Summary of a student-elf, probably two to three weeks into the new school year, their response will most likely be: Well, that explains a whooooole lot …
Spike presents himself as a hyper-mannerly, alert, and socially-sensitive young man. His instant ability to make friends; his ability to easily sense the moods of others and react appropriately; and his desire to please teachers and others in authority is remarkable. His bright personality, together with his various motor tics, gives him a quirky, endearing quality, as he does not seem to be frustrated or bothered or hampered by them and in my opinion, he enjoys his tics.
Spike is obsessed with small and various objects such as toy cars, yarn, string, small rubber balls, chains, spinning tops, paper clips, and other mechanical gadgets, and he is throughout the day seen with these objects which he keeps in his pockets and instantly pulls out when he is issued free time. Spike brings to school a new and different object each day; sometimes two or three new objects.
Spike, however, is attentive, witty, extremely cooperative, but he exhibits occasional disorganization of class items such as remembering to bring his textbook to class or something to write with and occasionally forgets to plan for assignment deadlines. Spike is very quick to apologize for misbehaviors and perceived or real inadequacies in the classroom. Socially, with his peers, Spike is often seen during outdoor and indoor breaks moving from group to group, establishing some sort of interaction, and then moving to the next group. He is always immediately accepted into the group. Spike benefits from positive reinforcement and small classes. His ability to quickly remember key facts of the current topics of study in one-word or short-phrase answers in general class discussion and in pressurized, fast-paced test review games with his classmates is remarkable.
But I left something important out, on purpose, because I didn’t want to scare off his teachers and possibly make them change careers. They'll just have to experience this particular thing of Spike's on their own. I know I had to.
About twice a week or so in morning homeroom, Spike drops to the floor, pulls both ankles behind his head, locks them together, pokes his arms out to the side like airplane wings, and rocks back and forth on the bony knobs of his spine while he smiles and gladly answers our questions.
That, too, remarkable.
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