As we plan our summer vacation, we think about how much our son, Mitchell who has Pitt Hopkins Syndrome, has progressed since he was born. We were told to not expect much, just go home and love him. Mitchell is finishing Grade 5 at Little Falls Public School, so that is a full 7 years of schooling behind him. And, 7 years since we met Helen Brockman.
The very first school planning meeting we had, we were met by Helen Brockman, as the Principal of Ann Hathaway School in Stratford. She introduced us to a room filled concerned professionals. That was overwhelming to us. Without skipping a beat, Helen had Mitchell in her lap, keeping him happy so that Rick and I could focus. We instinctively knew we were in a good place. And we were, but we wanted Mitchell to grow up with friends, in St Marys, and made the decision to bring him back to Central School to a building that wasn’t accessible.
Not soon after that, Mrs. Brockman was named the principal for the newly announced, and unnamed school in St Marys. It was then that we truly got to know her.
Many in our community gathered around this once in a lifetime opportunity to support the opening of a new school in our community. Helen was our passionate leader, emphatically advocating for what our building needed, and how accessibility would be built into everything they did.
Time passed, construction meetings, fundraising, parent engagement meetings all while leading Arthur Meighan School. And, then it opened.
I will always remember the staff, volunteers and family who worked hard over Thanksgiving in 2010 to move our classrooms into the now named Little Falls Public School. But what I remember most is when we paused for Thanksgiving dinner in the staff room, spilling out into the courtyard and shared our thanks for the miracle of our new school. We left as a family after that weekend.
As the years progressed, so too did Mitchell, and all the children under her charge. Supporting her kids, her staff, her teachers, and her parents, we all grew. We all knew that we were valued.
Move the clocks up over 6 years. Many of our original volunteers’ children have graduated from Little Falls but I can say with great certainty that we all fondly remember the days leading up to opening Little Falls PS! Now, our first Principal is retiring this week.
All of you who know Mitchell, know he has broken many perceptions of disability. There are many people who we thank. But, today, we acknowledge that our journey with Mitchell would not be the same without the kind leadership of Helen Brockman.
We wish you, Helen, and Gerry, all the best in your retirement. We will miss you, but we know you have prepared us well for the future, which is what education is all about.
All our love and thanks,
Lynn, Rick, Johanna and Mitchell Hainer