A gift like no other: Our daughter has returned


By Marie Tahan Daniels

I can hardly believe we are at the close of 2012. Just last Christmas we were still quite worried we had lost her. Our family is extremely thankful to you. Julia has returned.

By the end of the 2009-2010 school year, we were at the end of our rope. Our bright, boisterous child had become a dim, depressed little girl who cried each day at drop off and begged to be picked up the moment the bell rang. She had a couple girlfriends who still made her days bearable but we definitely could see her drowning. The two years of bullying from little girls was not a fight Julia was prepared to win. After spending an entire school year with teachers and administration promising they would look into and rectify issues, we saw no changes. As the year came to a close and we made our decision to petition an intra-district transfer, we received confirmation that the administration had never approached the bullying subject with the parents of the offending children. This fact alone was very disturbing. Why? Why would the school not give the these parents the opportunity to guide their children?

I called the principals of the elementary schools within the district and had lengthy conversations about their policies on handling bullying. I felt comfortable once I spoke with Brian McBride, principal of Solana Pacific, and said he felt that they had room and Julia would be a good fit for their school. He even said they had the perfect teacher that could help her build confidence again. You can imagine the frustration as the days of summer creeped along with no sight of an approval letter for the transfer. I must have called the district office 10 times to follow up. Other parents who had put their requests in after mine had received their transfers. It was not until the Rancho Santa Fe Review ran the article written by Marsha Sutton that I could breathe a sigh of relief. Immediately following the article, I received emails, telephone calls and visits from parents who felt they were alone in the bullying issue at the school and were happy that it had been brought to light. Within a few days of the article, we received our approval letter. I cried.

We were unsure if Julia would ever be able to find her way back to loving her school experiences, making friends and enjoying her childhood. On her first day of school she was so nervous that she got sick in front of her whole class. It was heart-breaking. Mr. McBride did indeed keep his word and paired Julia with the perfect teacher: Mr. Singley. This man is a magician. His classroom is the model of what we as parents hope our children experience throughout their education. He inspires children to draw on their creativity in every aspect of their learning. He believes each child has abilities far beyond those considered standard and pushes children to reach for achievements that stretch their comfort zones while making it entertaining. He encourages curiosity and evaluation into what might normally be considered mundane and boring. He brought Julia out of her shell and allowed her the time she needed to find herself again but pushed her to make herself available for moving past her insecurities.

I look at Julia and watch her excitement as Christmas approaches and recognize how far she has come. She has made great friends, cannot wait to get to school each day and loves her teachers. She is fearless in her efforts to succeed in her studies. She has become class representative and been required to report the news in front of her peers and, on occasion, the entire school. Julia is happy. There is no Christmas gift in the world that can top that for our family. So to you, Rancho Santa Fe Review, I am eternally grateful.