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Leaving behind The Journey School

Much has been made out of the impending departure from Selma of me and my husband, Allen, and how it will affect the Journey School. The truth is it should not affect the school in any way. My husband has recently accepted a new job, and we will be moving.  We know in our hearts that this is right for our family, and we are sad to leave the generous spirit of Selma.  Because the Journey School is so important to both of us, there will always be a part of us here, and as long as the school exists, Allen and I will be involved with it.

As the founder and director of The Journey School, I proudly pass the torch to my dear friend and highly respected colleague, Renee Alsobrook.  Since the doors opened in January 2008 Renee has been the co-director of our program.  From the very beginning, we have taken turns standing in the forefront or working behind the scenes, but all the while, we have been an amazing team.

For some reason, there are still people who believe The Journey School is a school solely for children with special needs.  This is not the case.  We created The Journey School to provide a top quality education for both typically developing children and children with special needs.  Current research suggests that this type of inclusive preschool is beneficial to both types of children.  It has been truly rewarding watching children who have struggled to complete everyday tasks gain the skills necessary to transition successfully into kindergarten.  It has been equally rewarding to witness many of our children begin to read and develop strong writing skills that have enabled them to enter kindergarten with ease and confidence.

At The Journey School we provide a standard of excellence that encourages all children to reach their full potential. Our teachers use professionally respected evaluation tools to assess each child in at least six areas of development. We use this information to provide individualized instructional plans. Together, with parents, we implement this plan at school and at home while providing a structured setting within an atmosphere of warmth and respect.

As a parent of both a child with special needs and a typically developing child, I fully understand the hesitance of parents to embrace the new movement to utilize an inclusive school.  When I made the decision to put both of my children in an inclusive setting, I couldn’t help but wonder what my typical child would gain from this experience.  Both in Nashville, Tenn., and in Tuscaloosa, I was told about all the research that proved typically developing children actually learn to be more tolerant and compassionate, and how they become leaders and are not afraid to help others in need.  I didn’t truly believe it until I witnessed it myself.  Nothing makes me prouder as a parent than to see my own child approach and communicate with children and adults with special needs, as if it were second nature.

As we prepare for the move, Allen and I pray that Selma will continue to take The Journey School under its wing and support it not only monetarily, but most importantly by sending their children and grandchildren to learn there.  We know in our hearts and minds there is a purpose for The Journey School. The inclusive setting has been so beneficial and rewarding to the children we have served, and we hope and pray that others will take advantage of this unique opportunity. Please come to our open house Thursday, Aug. 5, between 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to see what a wonderful thing we have in Selma!  Feel free to call 872-1222 with questions.

Penny Foster

Selma