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“He always sits toward the back, furthest back, with his shirt up above his mouth – ”

“The turtle neck.”

“Yes, I’ve noticed, the turtle neck.  Reminds me of that bazooka gum, comic strip guy.”

“Well, it’s his choice.”

“Mr. and Mrs. Foster, your son is exhibiting the typical signs of innate shyness.  At worst, a withdrawal that could escalate, could get increasingly bad. Wen I try to have him participate, he stares at the class like he’s just walked in from the cold.  I have to encourage him to talk loud enough even to be heard.”

“Does he participate in sports, things like that?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact, sports and most anything outdoors.  That’s when he comes most out of his shell, although even then not completely.  I still seem to get that little guy who is warily looking over a wall at the world.  It’s interesting because his drawings are very expressive, very colorful — ”

“We’ve seen some you have on the walls.”

The teacher seemed genuinely sad as she looked at them.

His dad asked, “What do you suggest?”


“Sammy,  is everything ok at school?”

“Ok, I mean, yeah, fine.”

“We talked to your teacher.  She’s concerned that you sit in the back.  Would you be ok if she moved you forward in the classroom?”

“Not really.  I don’t want to be there.”

“At all?  Well wait, you don’t want to be at school?”

“I want to be outside.  I want to be where the playground is, and I can see things.”

“Honey, there is a lot to see in the classroom!”

“I see the teacher and the classroom, the chalkboard, the walls.  I wish I could be outside. There’s a lot more out there, and I’m not nervous there.”


“Sorry but yeah, mom, nervous.”

“Have any of the kids been mean to you?”

“No, not really, they’re ok.”

“Mrs. Waite, the teacher, she’s nice to you?  The teacher is nice?”


“Well, what are you nervous about?”

“I don’t know, but I know I’m not nervous when I’m outside.  When I’m in the room, some times I wish I could disappear.  I don’t want to be there.  I just want to be outdoors.”

“Your paintings are very good.  Mrs. Waite said they are truly special.”

“I like painting.  I like it when I sing. But I like it best when we go outside.”


Sammy’s mom and dad came to the school on the day Sammy was scheduled to speak to the class.

He wore a v-neck blue shirt, and fidgeted until he was called.  Each of the boys and girls was supposed to talk about something they really like doing, and choose to share with the rest of the class.

“Sammy, would you please come forward?”

His mom and dad were watching.  His dad gave him a thumbs up.

Sammy walked past Jared, Burton, Kristi, Laura and finally J.J. He felt his heart beating really fast.  He started to pull his shirt down, as if it was too high on his neck.  He forgot that he wasn’t.

He stood facing everyone.  He saw his mom and dad again.  He was hoping he would talk loud enough so Mrs. Waite didn’t have to tell him to ‘speak up’…

“Hi Olivia,” that was the first thing Sammy said.

Olivia always smiled at everyone. She had two new teething coming in.

Some of the kids laughed a little.

“I wish I was outside, that we were all outside. The reason why… it’s a lot more fun.  I listen to Mrs. Waite, and I like our reading, and we get in groups, but I like being outside the best. So that’s it.”

Sammy noticed Brad and Jensen passing a note.  Mickey was whispering to someone —

“See – right there.  See Brad and Jensen, and Mickey.  They want to go outside I bet because outside are birds.  That’s the first thing.  You can’t see them inside here. Then you have Mr. Epps, who does all the clean up. His stories are awesome.  He’s always there, like at recess. And there are the trees, the leaves that come down.  The swings.  Kick ball.  I like all that.  So , I am sorry because I promised my mom and dad I would not say all this, but I don’t really like my table.  I don’t feel comfortable sitting there.  It doesn’t fit right.  I feel nervous inside the room. I don’t want to feel nervous.  You want to know what I really like to do,  then let’s go outside!  That’s what I most want to say — ”

“Mrs. Waite, let’s go outside!”

“Outside!  Please?”

“I like what Sammy said!”

“Sammy!  Sammy!” many in the class shouted.

“Mrs. Waite, can we go outside?”

Sammy was surprised.  He felt flush, but thought what was happening was actually kind of funny.  He couldn’t help but giggle a bit, nervously.

Mrs. Waite said, “Sammy, you are truly special.  Thank you for speaking up.  Thank you for sharing with us.  Ok class, I think we should all go outside.  Sammy, would you please take us all outside?”

Sammy started to walk out, but first he made sure everyone was coming.  He helped Derek who has to use crutches.  Sammy thought maybe his mom was crying about something, he wasn’t sure.  His dad’s face was all red, but he looked really happy.  In fact, his dad had his right hand in the air like he was doing a high five!

The first thing when they got outside, Mr. Epps was standing near the tether ball pole, doing some clean-up.  He turned and said, “Well, well, there you go.  You see Sammy, I told you they’d want to come outside.  Didn’t I tell you they’d follow you right out?  You know what that makes you, right?  You know that makes you a leader now!  You know that Sammy?  I told you so!  I told you that you are a true born leader!”