My Babcock, Gould, Crawford, Kibbe, Prince, Curtis, Mather, McEwen, and Hoyler Family Ancestry Photos (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

My great grandfather, Jonathan Mead Babcock (1878-1933), was the son of Samuel and Jane Babcock of Villenova (Balsam), New York, near South Dayton in Western New York State, outside of Buffalo.  Beyond them, I do not know anything more about my Babcock side of the family.  While there are several Babcock’s buried in Villenova Cemetery, the resting place of my great grandfather and great grandmother, Bertha B. (Gould) Babcock (1880-1963), I am unsure whether or not Jonathan had any brothers or sisters.  I would tend to believe that he was an only child.  When he was born, he weighed 13 pounds.  Perhaps that was enough for his mother to desire not having more children, I don’t know.  Jonathan Mead Babcock was born in 1878 and died on May 5, 1933; he was only 55 years old.  As a man, he was tall at 6’4.”  He worked as the Collins Railroad Foreman and Collins Town Constable.

Bertha B. (Gould) Babcock, Jonathan’s wife, was born in 1880 and died on May 11, 1963; she was 82 years old.  Both she and several of her family’s ancestors are also buried in Villenova Cemetery.  Bertha was one of two daughters born to Albert Allen (called “Arnold”) Gould (1856-1940)and Nancy Ann M. (Rump) Gould (1859-1914).  Nancy was Albert’s first wife; she died and Albert married his second wife, Addie (Prince) Gould.  (Addie Prince had a sister, known as Mrs. Hoyler, whom Bertha called, “Grandma;” I have a photo of her.  I believe that Mrs. Hoyler was Addie’s mother.)  Albert Gould’s parents were Alden Gould (1829-1913) and Arvilla (Barstow) Gould (1829?-1906, age 76).  Bertha’s sister was Hazel (Gould) Crawford Houston.

Addie Prince’s first husband was Job Prince.  They had at least three children, whom I know to be Bessie Prince, Glenn Prince, and Mrs. Harry Trimmer.  Bessie Prince married Charles J. Woodmansee, and they had two daughters, Adiline Woodmansee and Vivian Woodmansee.  I know that Vivian married Clarence Stoddart, and they had two daughters, Joyce Stoddart and June Stoddart.  Glenn Prince married May L. (Baxter) Prince, and they had two children, Winston B. Prince and Ruth V. Prince.  Ruth married Ed C. Sterry.  They had two sons, Ed B. Sterry and Clendon Sterry.  That is as much information as I have on the descendants of the Prince Family.

Hazel (Gould) Crawford (and later, Houston) and her husband had two daughters, Bessie (Crawford) Kibbe and Thelma (Crawford) Ulander.  Hazel’s first husband was Frank Crawford, who moved to South Dayton from Ohio, as an employee of the Stove Mill Company.  After Frank’s death, Hazel married her second husband, Vernon Houston; they had no children. Thelma and her husband lived in Jamestown, New York; they did not have any children.

Bessie (Crawford) Kibbe married James Kibbe, and they had one son, Bryan Kibbe.  Both Bessie’s husband and son predeceased her; Bessie lives in Falconer, New York and is 95 years old.  Bryan developed multiple sclerosis when he was about three-years-old, and struggled with it throughout his life.  He died as a bachelor a few years ago at about age 50.  James Kibbe also died a few years ago.  There are several Kibbe’s that live in Falconer and throughout the United States.  They are all cousins (now far-removed) to my family.

Cousins to my dad on my great grandmother Bertha’s side of the family further include the Curtis’ and Mather’s.  One of Nancy Rump’s sisters was Louise (Rump) Curtis.  Louise married Albert F. Curtis, and they had two children, John Henry “Henry” Curtis and a woman known as Mrs. George L. (Curtis) Mather – it is possible that her first name was also Louise, just as her mother’s.  Henry Curtis never married, and remained a bachelor all of his life.  Henry was an army veteran of World War II.  Albert and Louise Curtis’ daughter married George L. Mather, and they had two children, Curtis G. Mather and Lettie Mather.  Lettie Curtis Mather was born in South Dayton on July 13, 1891 and died in Jamestown, New York on October 9, 1962.

Henry Curtis had been engaged in his early life, though his fiancé broke off the engagement.  From what I understand, he became a miserable and unhappy person after that, and seemed to never recover from it.  I remember meeting him at my grandmother’s home when I was about 10 years old.  All of the other adults did not want me to be around him, and I discovered why – because nearly every other word that he spoke was profanity.  He also spoke very loudly, actually shouting, though he may have done so because he was hard of hearing, I don’t know.  At that time, he was about 95 years old.  I felt sorry for him, and wondered why anyone could be so miserable and unhappy.  Henry died when he was 98 years old – the oldest of my known ancestors.

Curtis Mather, the son of Mr. and Mrs. George Mather, worked for an electric company.  A tragedy occurred during his work in which he was electrocuted, and died.  Therefore, Lettie Mather continued on the descendants of that side of the family.  I discovered this upon speaking with the mother of Michael Denea (formerly of Gowanda, New York) when we began talking about family ancestry while I was about 14 years old.

At the time, I was taking summer piano lessons from Michael, who is an accomplished pianist, and now also an attorney, possibly living in Arizona upon my last knowledge.  Mrs. Denea informed me that she was a descendant of the Curtis Family, which would make she and her family far-removed cousins of my family.  Michael is a fifth cousin to me.  Mrs. Denea provided me with several antique bibles that had been kept in her family.  She handed them down to me – four bibles – which I still have and maintain.

Going back to the Babcock side of the family, Jonathan and Bertha (Gould) Babcock had three children, including Eunice (Babcock) McEwen Hembury, Louise (Babcock) Heppel, and Charles Albert Babcock (1911-1961).  Charles worked at the Ford Motor Company factory in Lackawanna, New York for a few years before becoming employed with the State of New York in Gowanda in the business office of the Gowanda Psychiatric Center.  Charles married Bernice Gale Briggs Babcock (and later, Sprague) of North Collins, New York (I have presented photos and information about her and her family in prior posts).

Eunice Babcock married a Mr. McEwen (I don’t know his first name), and they had two sons, Clarence “Clair” McEwen and Leland McEwen.  Clair married Mary (I don’t know her maiden name), and they had five children.  Their children were Butch, John, Dicky, Betty, and Tom McEwen.  When Mr. McEwen died, Eunice married her second husband, Floyd Hembury; they did not have any children.

When I was in my teens, Clair and his son, Tom, visited my family in Collins, New York, having traveled from Pennsylvania.  Clair was very elderly at that time, and he had wanted to get in touch with the family in Collins.  Likely, Clair died shortly after that; we have not heard from them, nor stayed in touch following that time.  I know that Betty married Joe Hembury; Eunice married her second husband, Floyd Hembury after Mr. McEwen died; and Tom McEwen is father to two girls, including Keeley and another daughter whose name I do not remember.

Louise (Babcock) Heppel married George Heppel in Collins, New York; they had no children.  My father remembered that Louise had epilepsy, and experienced seizures.  He also said that whenever Louise visited his family’s home, George never accompanied her.  He said that he never met George during his life.  Therefore, we don’t know much of anything about George, and have only one picture that includes him – the wedding picture that includes him with Louise, as well as Charles and Eunice.

Charles A. Babcock married Bernice Gale (Briggs) Babcock (and later, Sprague) (1912-1987).  They had one child, a son named, Bruce (born 1943), who is my father.  Bruce married Anna Maria (Krakowiak) Babcock (born 1944) in 1963, and they have two children, Michele Elizabeth Babcock-Nice (me) (born 1971) and my brother (born in 1972, who is divorced and does not have children). (I will provide more detail about the Krakowiak Family in another post.)

My dad worked for the State of New York in Gowanda, New York at the Gowanda Psychiatric Center (34 years) and Gowanda Correctional Facility (3 years), once the State Mental Hospital was transitioned into the Gowanda Prison.  Nearly the entire time that he worked at the Psychiatric Center, he was a stationary engineer in the Power Plant.  My parents also owned and operated a Sears Retail Catalog Store in Gowanda, New York for many years.

I married John Robert Nice, Jr. (born 1966), a high school physics teacher, in 2002.  John and his family are from Jacksonville, Florida, though John moved to and has lived in the Atlanta, Georgia area for about 20 years.  John has one sister and several half and/or adopted siblings, through the marriages of his parents.  John is a graduate of Rensellaer Polytechnic Institute in Rochester, New York.  He also attended Florida State University to obtain his teaching certificate.  (I will provide more detail about the Nice Family in another post.)

I moved to the Atlanta area for a professional employment opportunity in teaching in 2000.  I had interviewed in many states along the East Coast of the United States for full-time work in teaching; DeKalb offered me the best package, and so, I moved to Atlanta.  I had been a volunteer, substitute, and short-term substitute teacher in several school districts in Western New York State for a few years, but was not offered any full-time teaching positions there, though I had applied to about one dozen school systems.

Still single, and having no immediate family ties of my own holding me to the Buffalo area, I decided to move since I was in financial need and had no full-time work in my field.  After living in Atlanta for about 1.5 years, John and I were introduced to each other, blindly, but through a mutual teaching colleague in the DeKalb County School System.  Within 1.5 years of meeting each other, John and I were married.  The next year, our wonderful son was born; he is now nearly 11.  John divorced from me in 2009, following our separation, totaling 3 years.  We have each remained single since then.

I am a graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo (University of Buffalo); the State University of New York College at Buffalo (Buffalo State College); and Gwinnett Technical College in Lawrenceville, Georgia.  I also attended the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland through the University at Buffalo’s Study Abroad Program; and I am currently attending Argosy University in Atlanta.  I have two bachelor’s degrees and one master’s degree; am certified as a middle grades teacher (grades 4-8) in social studies and science, and in grades 4-12 social studies; and I am pursuing my second master’s degree, this one in counseling.  My total teaching experience, including voluntary, substitute, and full-time work, spans 15 years.

Jonathan and Bertha (Gould) Babcock, Alden and Arvilla (Barstow) Gould, and Albert and Nancy (Rump) Gould, are buried in Villenova Cemetery in Balsam, near South Dayton, New York.  Clarence and Julia (Gale) Briggs, and Charles Albert Babcock and Bernice Gale (Briggs) Babcock Sprague, are buried in the Protestant Cemetery in North Collins, New York.

Author’s Note: Information and images identifying my brother have been removed from this post as of April 27, 2016 as a courtesy per his request.

Jonathan and Bertha (Gould) Babcock, Gowanda, NY, Circa 1900

Jonathan and Bertha (Gould) Babcock, Gowanda, NY, Circa 1900

Jonathan Babcock (Left), Lawrence, Mike P., and Andrew P. Working on Railroad, Collins, NY, Circa 1890-1900

Jonathan Babcock (Left), Lawrence, Mike P., and Andrew P. Working on Railroad, Collins, NY, Circa 1890-1900

Jonathan Babcock and Frank Briggs at Railroad Depot, Collins, NY, Circa 1900-1910

Jonathan Babcock and Frank Briggs at Railroad Depot, Collins, NY, Circa 1900-1910

Jonathan Babcock and Horse, Collins, NY, Circa 1900-1910

Jonathan Babcock and Horse, Collins, NY, Circa 1900-1910

Louise Babcock (Married Name-Heppel), Sister of Charles A. Babcock, Collins, NY, Circa 1910

Louise Babcock (Married Name-Heppel), Sister of Charles A. Babcock, Collins, NY, Circa 1910

Charles A. Babcock, Collins, NY, 1911

Charles A. Babcock, Collins, NY, 1911

Eunice (Married Names-McEwen, Hembury), Charles A., & Louise Babcock (Married Name-Heppel), Collins, NY, 1913

Eunice (Married Names-McEwen, Hembury), Charles A., & Louise Babcock (Married Name-Heppel), Collins, NY, 1913

Charles A. Babcock, Railroad Depot, Collins, NY, 1914

Charles A. Babcock, Railroad Depot, Collins, NY, 1914

Addie (Prince) Gould and Arnold Gould with Bertha (Gould) Babcock, South Dayton, New York, 1930

Addie (Prince) Gould and Arnold Gould with Bertha (Gould) Babcock, South Dayton, New York, 1930

Mrs. Hoyler, South Dayton, New York, 1930

Mrs. Hoyler, South Dayton, New York, 1930

Bertha (Gould) Babcock (Left, Wife of Jonathan Babcock) with Neighbor, Collins, NY, 1960

Bertha (Gould) Babcock (Left, Wife of Jonathan Babcock) with Neighbor, Collins, NY, 1960

Bertha (Gould) Babcock, South Dayton, NY, 1890

Bertha (Gould) Babcock, South Dayton, NY, 1890

Charles A. Babcock, George Heppel, Louise (Babcock) Heppel, and Eunice (Babcock) McEwen Hembury, Collins, NY, 1925

Charles A. Babcock, George Heppel, Louise (Babcock) Heppel, and Eunice (Babcock) McEwen Hembury, Collins, NY, 1925

George Heppel and Louise (Babcock) Heppel, Circa 1930s-1940s, Collins, New York

George Heppel and Louise (Babcock) Heppel, Circa 1930s-1940s, Collins, New York

Louise (Babcock) Heppel, Bertha (Gould) Babcock, Eunice (Babcock) Hembury, Arnold and Addie Gould, South Dayton, NY, 1930

Louise (Babcock) Heppel, Bertha (Gould) Babcock, Eunice (Babcock) Hembury, Arnold and Addie Gould, South Dayton, NY, 1930

Louise (Babcock) Heppel and Jonathan Babcock, Collins, NY,  August 29, 1932

Louise (Babcock) Heppel and Jonathan Babcock, Collins, NY, August 29, 1932

Eunice (Babcock) McEwen Hembury and Louise (Babcock) Heppel, Collins, NY, 1920

Eunice (Babcock) McEwen Hembury and Louise (Babcock) Heppel, Collins, NY, 1920

Thelma (Crawford) Ulander, Bessie (Crawford) Kibbe, & Hazel (Gould) Crawford Houston, Falconer, NY, Circa 1920

Thelma (Crawford) Ulander, Bessie (Crawford) Kibbe, & Hazel (Gould) Crawford Houston, Falconer, NY, Circa 1920

Thelma Ulander, Jamestown, New York, 1930s

Thelma Ulander, Jamestown, New York, 1930s

Bryan Kibbe, Hazel (Gould) Crawford Houston, and Bertha (Gould) Babcock, Collins, NY, 1960

Bryan Kibbe, Hazel (Gould) Crawford Houston, and Bertha (Gould) Babcock, Collins, NY, 1960

John and Carol McEwen, Pennsylvania, Circa 1950 (Cousins to the Babcock's)

John and Carol McEwen, Pennsylvania, Circa 1950 (Cousins to the Babcock’s)

Frank Crawford and Hazel (Gould) Crawford Houston, Jamestown, New York, Circa 1890

Frank Crawford and Hazel (Gould) Crawford Houston, Jamestown, New York, Circa 1890

Henry Curtis, Circa 1930s

Henry Curtis, Circa 1930s

Henry Curtis and Beth, May 1943

Henry Curtis and Beth, May 1943

Henry Curtis, May 1941

Henry Curtis, May 1941

Curtis Mather, Jamestown, New York, 1918

Curtis Mather, Jamestown, New York, 1918

Curtis Mather or Henry Curtis, Forestville, New York, 1920s

Curtis Mather or Henry Curtis, Forestville, New York, 1920s

Henry Curtis

Henry Curtis

Bernice (Briggs) and Charles A. Babcock, Gowanda, NY, 1933

Bernice (Briggs) and Charles A. Babcock, Gowanda, NY, 1933

Charles A., Bernice, & Bruce E. Babcock, Collins, NY, 1948

Charles A., Bernice, and Bruce E. Babcock, Collins, NY, 1948

Bruce Babcock on his Second Birthday, Collins, NY, August 1945

Bruce Babcock on his Second Birthday, Collins, NY, August 1945

Bruce Babcock as a Child

Bruce Babcock as a Child

Boy Scout Bruce E. Babcock (Age 11), Collins, NY, September 1954

Boy Scout Bruce E. Babcock (Age 11), Collins, NY, September 1954

Bruce Babcock as a Young Man

Bruce Babcock as a Young Man

Bruce Babcock Senior High School Photo, Gowanda, New York, 1960

Bruce Babcock Senior High School Photo, Gowanda, New York, 1960

Bruce Babcock, Collins, New York, Christmas 1960

Bruce Babcock, Collins, New York, Christmas 1960

Bruce Babcock in Psychiatric Attendant's Class at Gowanda Psychiatric Center, Helmuth (Gowanda), NY, 1963

Bruce Babcock in Psychiatric Attendant’s Class at Gowanda Psychiatric Center, Helmuth (Gowanda), NY, 1963

Gowanda Psychiatric Center Aerial View, Helmuth (Gowanda), New York, Circa 1960-1970 By Dexter Press, Inc. (West Nyack, NY) and Aerial Surveys, Henry DeWolf (Rochester, NY)

Gowanda Psychiatric Center Aerial View, Helmuth (Gowanda), New York, Circa 1960-1970 By Dexter Press, Inc. (West Nyack, NY) and Aerial Surveys, Henry DeWolf (Rochester, NY)

Bruce and Anna (Krakowiak) Babcock Wedding, July 1963, St. Joseph Church, Gowanda, New York

Bruce and Anna (Krakowiak) Babcock Wedding, July 1963, St. Joseph Church, Gowanda, New York

Bruce and Anna Babcock, and Parents at Wedding, July 1963, Gowanda, New York

Bruce and Anna Babcock, and Parents at Wedding, July 1963, Gowanda, New York

This is a photo of my parents on their wedding day in July 1963.  From left to right are Emmett Sprague, Bernice Gale (Briggs) Babcock Sprague, Bruce Babcock, Anna (Krakowiak) Babcock, Wladislawa “Lottie” (Bulera) Krakowiak, and John Krakowiak.

Hazel Houston and Thelma Ulander with Baby Michele Babcock, Collins, New York, August 1971

Hazel Houston and Thelma Ulander with Baby Michele Babcock, Collins, New York, August 1971

Bessie Kibbe, Thelma Ulander, and Michele Babcock, Collins, New York, October 1973

Bessie Kibbe, Thelma Ulander, and Michele Babcock, Collins, New York, October 1973

Bernice (Briggs) Babcock-Sprague with Grandchildren Michele E. & Charles J. Babcock, Collins, NY, November 16, 1974 (3) - Copy

Bernice Briggs Babcock Sprague with Michele Babcock (-Nice), November 1974

Michele E. Babcock, First Communion, Gowanda, NY, 1978

Michele E. Babcock, First Communion, Gowanda, NY, 1978

Michele Babcock Taking Piano Lessons from Michael Denea, Perrysburg, New York, 1985

Michele Babcock Taking Piano Lessons from Michael Denea, Perrysburg, New York, 1985

Michael Denea is my fifth cousin.  We are related because my great grandmother Bertha (Gould) Babcock’s mother, Nancy Ann (Rump) Gould, was a sister to his great great grandmother, Louise (Rump) Curtis, on his mom’s side of his family.

Tom and Clair McEwen, Collins, New York, 1987

Tom and Clair McEwen, Collins, New York, 1987

Thelma Ulander, and Michele and Chuck Babcock, Jamestown, New York, 1987 (3) - Copy

Thelma Ulander and Michele Babcock (-Nice), Jamestown, New York, 1987

Jim and Bessie Kibbe, and Anna and Bruce Babcock, Falconer, New York, 1987

Jim and Bessie Kibbe, and Anna and Bruce Babcock, Falconer, New York, 1987

Bryan Kibbe and Michele Babcock, Falconer, New York, 1987

Bryan Kibbe and Michele Babcock, Falconer, New York, 1987

Michele Babcock, Miss Teen of NY Personal Development Award Recipient, 1987

Michele Babcock, Miss Teen of NY Personal Development Award Recipient, 1987

Michele Babcock, University at Buffalo Senior Portrait, 1992

Michele Babcock, University at Buffalo Senior Portrait, 1992

Christmas with The Nice's-John Jr., Michele Babcock-Nice, and Son, Baby's First Christmas, Conyers, Georgia, 2003

Christmas with The Nice’s-John Jr., Michele Babcock-Nice, and Son, Baby’s First Christmas, Conyers, Georgia, 2003

John Nice, Jr., Michele Babcock-Nice, and Son at Kindergarten Graduation, Lilburn, Georgia, 2009

John Nice, Jr., Michele Babcock-Nice, and Son at Kindergarten Graduation, Lilburn, Georgia, 2009

Family Disney Picture 2006

Family Disney Picture, (Bruce, Anna, Michele and Son with Mickey Mouse), Walt Disney World, Lake Buena Vista, Florida, 2006

Four Generations of Cousins-Babcock's, Nice's, Kibbe's, Falconer, New York, 2005 (Jim, Bruce, Baby, Michele, Bessie)

Four Generations of Cousins-Babcock’s, Nice’s, Kibbe’s, Falconer, New York, 2005 (Jim, Bruce, Baby, Michele, Bessie)

Bessie Kibbe with Michele Babcock-Nice and Michele's Son, Summer 2012

Bessie Kibbe (Age 93) with Michele Babcock-Nice and Michele’s Son, Summer 2012

My Webelos Cub Scout Son, 2013

My Webelos Cub Scout Son, 2013

Since the captions associated with each of the photos are self-explanatory, I have not added more information to follow each one in this post.

I hope that you have enjoyed reading and understanding more about my family heritage!

Sources:

Dexter Press, Inc. (West Nyack, NY) and Aerial Surveys, Henry DeWolf (Rochester, NY), 1960-1970. Gowanda Psychiatric Center Aerial View, Helmuth (Gowanda), New York.

Photos and information of Bernice Gale Briggs Babcock Sprague, 1860-1987.  Collins, New York.  Currently the Property of Michele Babcock-Nice (2014).  Snellville, Georgia.

Photos and information of Michele Babcock-Nice (2014), 1960-2013.  Snellville, Georgia.

Sears Portrait Studio (2003).  Photo of Nice Family at Christmas.  Conyers, Georgia.

Other photographers of other professional photographs, unknown.

“Georgia’s SST Process is Supposed to Help, not Hurt Students” (By: Michele Babcock-Nice)

Instructional Materials

Instructional Materials

In Georgia, schools have what is called “Student Support Team” or “SST” to assist students who are struggling with academics, behavior, and/or socialization in the classroom.  In my experience as a public middle school teacher in Georgia for six years, I found that the SST process was extremely helpful and supportive to students, especially when I was the teacher leading and/or otherwise participating in it.  My experienced education mentors in the DeKalb County School System near Atlanta taught me the process and ensured that open-mindedness was maintained in helping and supporting students with every possible intervention for which they qualified, based on their academic, behavioral, and/or social needs.  In public schools, one also had to maintain caution about not suggesting supports and/or interventions that the parent would not consider because the school system (as is true of all public school systems, to my knowledge) did not desire to pay for services that it was unable to offer.  In the private school setting, however, the SST process is extremely different and potentially much less supportive than that in public schools, which I will compare here.

“Georgia SST teams had their origin in a federal lawsuit known as Marshall vs. Georgia (1984). It dealt primarily with disproportionate placement of minority students in Special Education. While the state prevailed in this case, a shortcoming in Georgia education became obvious: there was no standard process for students to obtain individualized help in the regular classroom for learning or behavior difficulties.  Instead, the route to such help usually led to placement in Special Education, often involving removal from the general classroom.  As part of its commitment to federal court to remedy technical violations found in the trial, the State of Georgia mandated that a Student Support Team would be established in every Georgia public school, K-12. The court accepted this commitment, thereby making the SST mandate a permanent injunction” (Block quote from: State of Georgia Department of Education, 2011).

In my experience as a public school teacher in Georgia, I would estimate having led and/or participated in many dozens of SST process team meetings for my students.  Whenever any of my colleagues and/or I identified areas of deficiency and/or potential improvement for students, the students were referred to SST.  SST is a type of support for students that identifies and monitors areas and/or other characteristics of the student in the school setting that could be improved.  For example, a gifted student who has straight As in all subjects except for math – and who is failing math – can be referred to SST for support and monitoring.  Also, a student who has recently maintained average grades, but who has become withdrawn, is failing, and is at-risk (of dropping out of school) can be forwarded through the SST process.  And, a student whose behavior is inappropriate, unacceptable, and/or dangerous, and who is failing due to his or her behavior can also be referred to SST.  Additionally, a student who is pregnant and who is expected to be out of school for awhile due to giving birth can also be referred to SST.

In my experience in teaching public middle school students around Atlanta, Georgia, the SST process was always helpful on each and every occasion.  Public school educators are very interested in assisting and supporting students so that they will be successful, and/or so that they will improve in the areas in which betterment is desired.  I can say that the educators with whom I worked, including myself, were always consistently interested in helping and supporting our students as much as possible.  We went above and beyond in doing what we could, within legal guidelines for public school educators, in suggesting out-of-school supports, as well as in providing and implementing in-school aids to support increased success and learning. 

Some of the actions that were implemented by public school teachers for students through SST to aid them include moving the student’s desk closer in proximity to the teacher to better assist in maintaining the student’s attention; providing extended time to complete assignments and/or assessments; giving individualized verbal and written instructions and/or directions (in addition to addressing them to the entire class); breaking up larger assignments into smaller parts; providing more positive feedback, incentives, and reinforcements; providing increased follow-up, monitoring for progress, and/or redirection to students for whom it is needed and/or helpful; pairing students with those who are good mentors and/or role models; etc.  There are a great many more interventions that can be provided in the classroom, as well, including giving the student leadership opportunities in class; providing the student with more opportunities to speak and/or ask and answer questions; calling on the student by name; maintaining a positive, nonjudgmental tone with the student; not “guilting” a student because he or she is unable to understand and/or complete work; and giving students opportunities to be more mobile in class.  All of these interventions and more are those which my colleagues and I implemented for students with whom we were involved in the SST process.

In contrast, I can also describe a perfect example of how the SST process has broken down and has seriously emotionally and/or academically-injured and/or failed a student, including the generation of risk to their health and life.  I believe that because educators, administrators, and/or counselors and psychologists in private schools are unfamiliar and inexperienced with the SST process in Georgia because they have not been required to utilize it and/or there has been little to no oversight or enforcement of it in their school systems, that it is not nearly as effective as the process implemented in public schools.  Or, perhaps school employees in private schools may deliberately mishandle the process, purposely jeopardizing students’ health, life, and/or academic success.  Public school teachers in Georgia utilitze the SST process to assist students all the time; private school teachers and other school personnel appear to perceive the SST process as a last resort and something to avoid at all possible costs.  Even for those students who may need, require, and/or benefit from the SST process in private schools, there is a great lack of it’s utilization in the private school environment, as I have observed.

In relation to the particular student whom I will call Carl, he is an elementary school (grade 3) aged child who has regularly achieved high grades and is an honor student, academically, behaviorally, as well as in character and values.  Carl’s standardized test scores are extremely high, with his average academic functioning ranging between grade 5 to 7, and his overall academic functioning ranging between grade 3 to grade 10.  Carl’s socialization might benefit from more positive interactions and opportunities for positive, small group cooperative work with his peers, however he has had prior experiences that have understandably-caused him to be cautious of his peers and others.  Carl could also benefit from increased follow-up, attention, reassurance, and positive reinforcement from his teachers, as well as greater open-mindedness toward utilizing and implementing supports that will better aid in Carl’s academic success, reduction in stress, and increased happiness and confidence at school.

For Carl, it would have benefited him for his teachers and/or school to have instituted the SST process immediately upon their observation of him requiring additional time to complete his assignments and/or assessments.  They provided accommodations to Carl for a period of six months prior to nearly all of them being removed by the school psychologist, against the many suggestions and evidence provided by an outside professional who completed an outside evaluation of Carl.  It’s not that Carl is unable to perform extremely well on all of his work, it’s that he simply needs some additional time to complete it.  Therefore, what happened was that extended time was provided for some time, and following an outside assessment, nearly all extended time was removed, even though the professional who completed the outside assessment repeatedly recommended continuing the extended time accommodations, and identified – through a valid evaluation – that Carl’s processing time was lower than average.  Basically, the evaluation that was completed addressed only reading and math, and not language arts or writing.  Simply based on the reading and math results of the evaluation, the school psychologist of the private faith-based school removed nearly all of Carl’s extended time accommodations, without having any concrete evidence to do so in his other subjects. 

School Books and Assignments

School Books and Assignments

In my experience, removing accommodations already in place without evidence to support the need for their removal is simply not done and is unethical.  To remove nearly all of six months worth of accommodations placed Carl at significant peril in many areas of his life and development.  In all of my experience, accommodations are only removed when the student shows progress in being able to be successful without them in place.  Accommodations are never removed if they will hurt the student in some – or any – way.  In Carl’s situation, nearly all of his extended time accommodations were removed, and it was literally like the rug being pulled out from under him.  Again, the professional who completed Carl’s evaluation repeatedly stated that the extended time accommodations was needed and warranted.  The school psychologist who interpreted the professional’s evaluation removed nearly all of the accommodations that were in place to help support Carl in maintaining success. 

The school psychologist would rather remove accommodations already proven to help and support Carl, and require additional evaluations, rather than keep supports in place that have aided in his success.  The school principal also likely prepped the school psychologist for the outcome that was desired, and that is what occurred.  Further, school leaders always speak of wanting a partnership between home and school, however when situations such as this occur – when accommodations are removed that have been proven to assist the student in his success – it reflects that there is no partnership, and instead, there exists an adversarial relationship.

Following the removal of nearly all of Carl’s accommodations by the school psychologist, he began failing many assignments and/or attaining low grades on them – not because he was not capable of doing them well, but because he was unable to complete them.  This, therefore, placed extreme and unnecessary stress on Carl, and led to a crisis situation.  It, therefore, appears that the school psychologist and even perhaps other school leaders are more interested in removing supports to assist students, rigidly adhering to curriculum requirements that students may be unable to attain without extra supports, and essentially and literally placing a nail in a student’s coffin by removing supports that have assisted them. 

Rather than understand and support an outstanding student such as Carl as much as possible, why would a school psychologist remove supports for him that have been proven to assist him in his success?  Why would a school psychologist prefer to create a crisis situation for such a wonderful and outstanding student, when there is no evidence to support the removal of accommodations already in place?  Does the school psychologist prefer that Carl fail?  Does the school psychologist intend for Carl to experience a crisis or worse?  It appears so.

In this situation, the SST process at this private, faith-based school has failed Carl, and caused risk to his health and life.  Worse than negatively affecting his grades, assignment completion, confidence, and mood, it caused a crisis situation that could have led to Carl not being here today.  Is curriculum of greater importance than a child’s life?  Is educational rigidity and a lack of understanding of students more important than supporting and helping them as much as possible to be successful and happy in school?  Are private schools not to be held accountable for assisting students with success through positive (rather than negative) endeavors of the SST process?  In this particular situation, this certainly appears to be the case. 

When a related issue of parentally-requested school support of Carl be completed for him – and it was not – the issue went before the school system’s superintendent, who cited her support for curriculum, policy, and the privatization of the school system, preferring those areas to the support and well-being of Carl.  When school leaders succumb to intellectual blindness related to denying support, success, well-being, and lives of their students, such school leaders cease to be effective.  School leaders who are also unable to cope with constructive criticism and honesty, and who are either unwilling or unable to provide simple support, understanding, and compassion to students – particularly children – have the potential for being more destructive than constructive. 

In order to be productive and progressive, schools and school leaders must be open-minded to all perspectives and philosophies – even the ones they don’t like to hear – in order to improve and in order to best-serve and benefit the students.  School leaders, particularly those in upper administration, must also use their intelligence and insight in order to model, understand, and believe what is true and correct – as well as remain ethical – rather than allowing themselves to be poisoned by inaccurate or false information provided to them by those whom they manage. 

There are some school leaders who are open-minded and effective because they listen to and consider the issues of their customers, however there often seem to be many more who do not listen to, nor consider serious issues because they do not approach the issues with open-mindedness and without prejudgment and bias.  Leaders of the former-type are most effective because they always have the best interests of the students in mind.  Regarding the latter-type leaders, their purposeful ignorance and/or “fix” to the issues may only contribute to further problems and a worsening of the issues.

Students in all schools in Georgia – not just those attending public schools – must be afforded the positive support that they need through SST and the SST process.  Removing supports that were put in place to assist the student, and doing so with no evidence that the student is able to perform as well without the supports, unnecessarily injures the student, placing the student at risk for further injury.  Hopefully, people who have been entrusted to support and help students will do so, rather than playing with their intellect, emotions, and lives as if they are unimportant and unvalued.  Hopefully, such people will do so before it is too late.  But, then again, some people never change.

References:

State of Georgia Department of Education, 2011.  “Student Support Teams (SST): Structure and Process” (p. 4).  Retrieved on March 3, 2013 from   http://archives.gadoe.org/DMGetDocument.aspx/SST%20Guidelines%20Final%209-16-11.pdfp=6CC6799F8C1371F62BDB7AD6F76A3052D9E5ABE36C978EDD135479A5CF0628D1&Type=D