When I sit down to Thanksgiving dinner with my family, one of the things I’ll be grateful for this year is the experience my son has had at Clissold Elementary School.

When we first came to Clissold six years ago, it took everything I had just to get him through the school doors each morning. My son has Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a form of high-functioning autism, and the social aspects of school were very challenging for him. I often relied on help from teachers and para professionals, some of whom are still working with him today and tear up when they talk about the incredible progress he’s made during his time at this school.

My son is in 8th-grade now, so we spend a lot of time talking about his transition to high school, which should be easier now that he’s been fully mainstreamed. It’s hard for me to believe, given where we started, that he’s where he is today, and the credit goes to the amazing staff at Clissold.

My son has gone from being in a self-contained special education classroom to being fully included with his peers. He’s gone from barely speaking or looking at anyone to having constant conversations with his teachers, his classmates, our neighbors, and anyone who engages him. He’s not afraid to try new things, and he has the skills and independence he needs to do well in high school. None of this would have been possible without the teachers who have gone above and beyond for him.

Since the day he arrived in third grade, my son’s teachers have been his biggest cheerleaders. They always focus on the positive, and they won’t let up until he can do the same things his classmates are doing.

I honestly don’t know where my son would be today without the teachers at Clissold. I’m sure that there are many CPS parents out there with similar stories, so I hope that in the spirit of the Thanksgiving holiday, they’ll count those great teachers among their blessings and take the time to tell them what a difference they’ve made in the lives of their children.

Christine Cupicciotti
CPS Parent