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Avery is special a kid. She is one of those students who I really connect with and enjoy having a lot in my class.

Avery is spunky, funny, creative, sincere and courageous in so many ways.

Avery is troubled, incredibly unsure of herself, insecure, and stubborn.

Avery is having a hard day again. I know immediately by the way she carries her body into the classroom. Her head is down, her shoulders slouched. She shuffles her feet across the community rug to her table. Her body collapses as soon as she reaches her chair. She folds her arms together on the table and buries her face.

All through my lesson, Avery looks at me, but keeps her head cradled in her arms. I wonder if she hears me right now? How bad is today? Should I call her back from wherever she retreats to? that sometimes backfires.

I wonder if she’s hungry. She often skips breakfast and having a little bit to eat can make a difference. I make a mental note to put some graham crackers in her locker later when we move to work time.

When I check in with Avery after the lesson. I see smudges of ink on her cheek. I look hard at the smudges and see that there are letters. The letters look backwards and I can’t make them out. Then I see the word dumb scrawled on the top of her hand. I realize that dumb had been stamped on her face when she had her head down. I think about whether Avery meant to smear dumb on her face.

I don’t say anything. I’ve learned that it’s better not to acknowledge her attacks on herself. But the word stings me as I struggle to put it out of my mind. An urge to take Avery directly to the bathroom overwhelms me. I want to scrub her hand and cheek clean as if she were a small child. I want to make her new. I want the sting to go away.

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