Category Archives: fathers’ rights

Active Vs. Passive Learning

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While I have some ‘brainiacs’ in my family, my brother
and sister in law both have PhD’s and my Mom has her
Master’s, they are basically pro-public schools. They
had a lively dinner conversation over smoky brats, hot
dogs and hamburgers. We were talking about my coworker,
Keith, and his daughter, Ashley.
Rich taught in Cleveland Public Schools with a Learning
Disabilities classroom for 20 years, Susan is an English
Professor at Baldwyn Wallace, and my Mom taught in Westlake
City Schools (plus a few years in Vermilion and Sandusky
high schools). I have experience with fourth, fifth, sixth
and preschool integrated classrooms (special needs blended
with typically developing peers.) Randy is a graduate of OSU
with a fine arts degree, Susan’s daughter is a judicial
clerk with a Law degree, along with her husband who has
a degree in computers. Everyone may not have taken direct
part in this lively discussion but many times my grandniece
and grandnephew, Emma and Robby may have created some fun
and “cute” distractions!
When I asked Keith how Ashley’s first week of school
was going, he let me know that he was allowing her to
be home-schooled.
Some background information, I wrote a blog about this
little duo and Ashley’s unfortunate bullying experiences
on the bus. Ashley is overweight and I feel, without
even meeting her, that she may have some learning
disabilities. She is strong in her computer and math
skills but not in her reading and spelling skills. When
two areas are strong and opposing ones are weak, this
disparity shows strengths and weaknesses. But, usually
it also means LD labeling and some tutoring and special
needs’ arrangements through an IEP. (Individualized
Educational Plan)
I thought it was unfair she got thrown off her bus due
to the way she reacted to teasing by other bus mates.
I thought it was brave and very challenging that Keith
was able to get more of the custodial parenting
responsibilities through a year’s worth of “battle”
with his ex-wife whose present husband and her stepson,
were actually “bullying” within their own family structure.
This also included throwing a little “mud” and getting
some counselors behind Keith.
So, I was dismayed that Keith was giving up having Ashley
learn through a new teacher and situation. Instead, she
logs on and is monitored while he is at work and she
spends so many hours doing assignments. Once in awhile,
she will ask her mother when on a visitation or her Dad
for help. Each time they are trying to encourage her to
do the thinking.
When this subject was brought up, the family all pitched
ideas to present to Keith to make Ashley’s curriculum
more well rounded. One way they thought would help her
to learn more was to have “projects” where she could
do more active learning. She could research and then
do some homemade experiments for science, some hand
made posters and models for her book reports or history
lessons. She could also be taken to museums over the
weekend. The Columbus Art Museum has free admission
on Sundays.
There might be a local Homeschooling group that would
join forces and include Ashley. Sometimes smaller groups
can include someone better than large classroom settings
and this could have been accomplished, also, within the
school system: I would pair her with a more ‘popular’
or outgoing student on these projects. I also had used
a “loner” student while I taught sixth grade Language
Arts to stay in and make bulletin boards while given
a subject matter and his own freedom to choose how to
interpret the subject. (Christopher would be around
47 years old now…)
Mom said that church youth group, Girl Scouts and other social
groups, like 4H would be great ways to make her life more
well rounded in the social aspects. I will mention this along
with the other suggestions, that you my fine readers may supply!
Keith is a nice man who likes to play learning games
so I think he may be open to suggestions. I am tempted
to give him a written compilation of these, but would
also like to “use” my teaching associates out there,
parents who have home-schooled and parents who have
had to come up with their own workable strategies to
bring added dimension and success to their children
or students.
This is my plea, so please respond and help me out.
I am interested in your views on home schooling and
computer learning versus classroom learning where
there is a social structure. I also think that Ashley
needs to have exercise, so am not sure how to deal
with this.

When I wrote about Keith and Ashley she was 10 years old
and in fourth grade in a county school. She is now 11
years old and would have been in fifth grade. This may
help with any and all advice, suggestions or comments you
may make!
Thank you, as always, Robin

Keith and Ashley

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This is a love story about a father who has been a hero to

his daughter. He is a coworker of mine and his name is

Keith. His daughter, Ashley, was living in a challenging

situation where his ex-wife, her mother, was involved with

drugs and alcohol.

Ashley’s mother was unfortunately allowing her stepson to

also run slipshod over her own daughter.

There was potential of the boy pursuing an inappropriate

sexual act with Keith’s daughter. He had several times cornered

her in a room or once in the bathroom.

When Ashley had come to his house for her bimonthly visits

and Keith heard this, his blood boiled! He had decided he

had to at least try to get full custody of Ashley.

The way Keith was able to get the court to stop and notice,

unfortunately was not due to the gross neglect or potential

danger of Ashley. Keith had the school get involved through

official records of her poor attendance record last year. Then

the fact the bus driver called Ashley ‘disorderly’ and she got

kicked off the bus. Added with her low grades and ungroomed

appearance, the school counselor saw all the signs that this

child of 10 years needed to be saved from her own mother.

Keith has finally been awarded full custody. All of his friends

have  been listening and supportive of his decision. It is rare

that a mother loses custody. It is very difficult to have the law

take action to protect the child when the mother has lost interest

in her child’s welfare. The proof was accumulated and even then,

one judge had to be persuaded twice. The first time, he said the

case did not prove her an ‘unfit mother.’

Ashley’s dad has been trying hard for over a year to be able to

get her mother to allow her to come to his house daily to work

on her assignments. Keith did not expect the custody situation

to work out so quickly, thought years would go by, and got the

temporary homework visits passed through mediation rather

than court. Ashley’s grades have been gradually going up and

this makes her Dad so proud of her! This was a positive “proof”

that he was fit!

When the time came where Keith’s lawyer thought that the final

decision might work out in Keith’s favor. He was hoping to win

his custodial case, Keith had had his sister and mother come for

a week to transform Ashley’s bedroom.

Keith built a bookcase, fixed her closet so that it had two racks for

clothing, one lowered for pants and shorts to be able to be hung up,

the higher one with tops, sweaters and jackets. They had bought

clothes that were nice, current fashions and appropriate for school

at thrift stores.

His female family members chose a nice light teal/ light turquoise

color with tan and brown details used in the throw pillows and

curtains. Keith had always kept her room nicely decorated in a

Disney style, more for a younger child. Now that she was growing

older, it was a little hard to believe she was needing a change.

Ashley needs to have pride in her own appearance, her grades, her

home and her bedroom would be a great place to study in now.

Keith hopes that she will make more friends and invite one or two

over to spend the night someday.

Keith built a nice study corner with a desk, bookcase and pretty

chair with a padded seat so Ashley would be comfortable while

studying. Keith also would sit at the kitchen table when he got

home looking over her homework and had taught Ashley to put

stickie notes on places that gave her trouble. She walked home

so she was able to avoid the stepbrother who had started to bully

her and taunted her.

This had brought Ashley tears of frustration and then, when she

lashed out in anger, SHE was the one kicked off the bus!

Once the school was informed of the true situation; the injustice

had been corrected. But, in that case, it was too late for Ashley

to want to ride the bus, at least as long as her stepbrother was

also a passenger on that school bus. He will be riding another

bus next year to the middle school.

We cheered each time a victory was made! We consoled Keith at

each setback and I am happy to say, all things are “fixed” except

sad visitation times bimonthly to her mother’s are still awkward

and mandatory.

Keith hopes Ashley will feel more secure knowing that she has

a home to go to and that she is making progress in school. He has

been taking her to private counseling sessions with a psychiatrist.

By her inner strength, Ashley will be able to stand up for herself

and that is the best way to achieve her own self esteem.

In this story, the relationship between a father and his daughter

reveals his true love for his daughter. At this age, Keith is Ashley’s

“knight in shining armor!”