Updated: Mar 2
Katharine Barnes was one of the TJS founders. In her words, she tells us about her fondest memories of Joshie, TJS' namesake.
"Joshie, like all of us, had experiences that were painful and hard and experiences that brought him great joy. For the most part he showed his emotions on his face and you could clearly feel his pain or his joy. When something was hard for him he would close his eyes and shut out the world, but not completely. He would grab on to the back of your shirt, put his full trust in you and let you guide him. I always felt very special when he chose me to fill this role for him. It was such an honor to have this little person put so much trust in me. We are often a voice for our students and sometimes their eyes and ears. We have so much control in our roles as teachers, BCBAs, assistants, and admin. It is so important that we never take advantage of this and do what is easiest or most comfortable for us. We need to tune in to our students and always put their dignity and humanity above all else (and yes that means programming, data, EVERYTHING).
Joshie's smile and giggle could light up a room. I'll never forget how he loved feeling the wind and looking out on the water from the boat on our school camping trip. I was filled with so much joy watching him that day. He loved to throw sand, pebbles, blocks, and water into the air and watch it fall. He would do this over and over again with his little hands and giggle. He loved to look at himself in the full length mirror in our classroom and strut his stuff. He was so sweet and absolutely adorable, but also very feisty which I loved so much. He was famous for his butterfly kisses. He would lean in and flutter his eyelashes ever so gently on your cheek, but then he would pull back and poke you in the eye!
My last memory with [Joshie] was at a Dr. Seuss party in the classroom across from ours. We had taken our class over to make hats to celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday and have a little party. Joshie made his hat and set it down on the table. He had some snacks and it seemed he really couldn't care less about the whole thing. When I prompted him it was time to go he got up and then quickly went back to grab his hat and take it with him. It was important to him. He taught me to never ever assume. All of our students truly are individuals with things they love, like, don't care about, dislike, and hate. It's up to us to take the time to get to know them, learn, observe, engage on their level, expose them to opportunities, and honor their feelings and opinions. It is THEIR quality of life we are trying to improve and the path to that as well as the outcome will be different for every single student.
Losing Joshie (and other students we have lost since) reminds us to appreciate every single moment with our students. The ups, downs, tears, giggles, silence and screams - life. I am so grateful for my time with all my students over the years. The amount I have learned is unmatched by all of my schooling and certifications. I am a better teacher, mom, and person for knowing them.
With Much Love for Joshie, the students at his school, and the staff that serves them,