Christmas time of 2007 was filled with so much joy. We were learning that the Down Syndrome diagnosis, and ‘life in Holland’ was just different, not worse.
Noah at 15 months could scoot, crawl, cruise but not yet walk. We were preparing for all of the holiday festivities. Two of our best friends from Virginia, who happened to be sisters, had moved up to Delaware with their families.We decided that we were going to have a progressive dinner at each of our homes. We would each host a course and would move from house to house. Since Mom and I lived on the same property, and Carol and Wanda shared their land in Hartly, it would work out perfectly.
Carol had a daughter, Eliza that was turning 2 that December. She was agile, bright and adventurous. Her gross motor skills were off the chart, and even today, she excels in any sport she applies herself to.
As we entered the appetizer course at Carol’s farmhouse, Eliza ran to Greet Noah. She wanted him to follow her to the playroom to enjoy her toys. When she realized that Noah could only scoot and not walk, she did the most amazing thing, she got down on the floor and imitated Noah’s movements! For the rest of the evening, regardless of whose house we were visiting, Eliza and Noah could be seen scooting from toy to toy, engaging with the various friends and family.
This special bond, spread to Noah’s other friends as well. Soon he had a small core of typical kids that he would engage with on a regular basis. As I watched the friendships unfold, I knew I wanted him to be surrounded by all of this love and acceptance. In 2009, my mom and I began a preschool on the farm.
Daylilly Academy was established. We turned the migrant home in between our houses into a one room schoolhouse. We painted the walls, hung tapestries from the ceiling. A bathroom was installed. Things were donated, bought and repurposed. The first year we ‘enrolled’ five of Noah’s friends. Every Thursday from 12-3, the kids would get dropped off and bedlam would ensue. We did plays, crafts, songs, we fed our horses, did experiments, walked our nature trails and skimmed the ponds.
Year after year, the school grew until we were finally turning kids away because the schoolroom couldn’t contain more students. We watched the three and four year olds turn into seven and eight year olds. What a joy it was to not only have Noah’s life filled with so many friends, but to have the privilege of teaching alongside of my mother.
As time went on the academy whittled down to just Eliza and Noah. We took field trips, built elaborate structures, read amazing books, and performed exciting science experiments. Just like when Noah was a baby, Eliza would lead the way to his learning, carving out a path he was able to follow even if it was at a slower pace.
When I look back over the sixteen years of Noah’s life, the Lord was so faithful in providing a community of friends who loved him, and who we loved. I’m still amazed at all of people in our life who came to ‘Holland’ and enjoyed our little school there.
One thought on “The Little Red Schoolhouse That Could”
Your teaching all of our students at Daylilly Academy was really something to behold! Those kids were all blessed by your God given talent. It was ‘Lightning in a Bottle’ !
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