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Did This School Overstep Their Boundaries to Protect a Child’s Health?

Lea Lomas

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When you send your child to school with a packed lunch, you expect that they’ll return home happy and full. However, one mother was shocked to see her young daughter return from preschool with a grumbling stomach and a note from her teacher. The story, revolving around Leeza Pearson and her daughter, would sweep the nation while sparking heated debates on both sides of the situation. Keep on reading to find out why Leeza Pearson had to move her daughter to an entirely new school!

Home and Hungry

Leeza Pearson had been enjoying a regular day at home while her daughter, Natalee, was at preschool. Only, her day would take a sharp turn away from normalcy when classes ended for the day. Soon, Natalee would be home and all of their lives would be changing. What happened at school? Why was Natalee hungry?

Controversy in Colorado

Leeza Pearson lived in Aurora, Colorado, with her husband and young daughter, Natalee. The city is known for being progressive, nurturing, and kind. Leeza’s daughter had been attending the Aurora Children’s Academy at the time. Supposedly a great public school, Leeza would be blown away by what was about to happen.

Notable Preschool

Aurora’s Children Academy & Childcare Center is considered one of the top preschools in the entire city. The school takes on 150 students every year. This small class size allows staff members to care for the children with the maximum amount of attention possible. As you’ll soon find out, this may not have been the best thing in the world for Leeza and Natalee!

Bad Day at School

During an otherwise completely average day, Leeza would see her life change dramatically. When her daughter returned home from school, she was upset, crying, and terribly hungry. What’s more, she was clutching a note in her hands that had been given to her by the school. The note would spark rage in Leeza while inciting a controversy across the nation.

The Note

As you can see, the note clearly calls out Leeza for the food that she had provided to Natalee. According to the note, the school takes an incredibly proactive approach to deal with unhealthy students. The only problem was that Leeza hadn’t given her daughter much in the way of junk food at all! According to Leeza, Natalee had a ham and cheese sandwich, some string cheese, and a tiny bag of Oreos.

Problematic Oreos

According to Leeza, Natalee typically brings some vegetables and fruit with her to lunch. With that being said, Leeza still didn’t understand the reaction. Natalee wasn’t even close to overweight! Instead, Natalee was a perfectly healthy, adorable little girl. What right did the school have to take her lunch away?

Going to Social Media

Leeza wasn’t about to back down without a fight. Feeling furious at the school for causing her child to starve, Leeza took to social media to share her story. It quickly became clear that the issue wasn’t as cut-and-dry as Leeza had thought! While many parents were on her side, other parents argued that Leeza’s lunch was pretty unhealthy.

Eating Healthy Foods

Some members of social media would argue that the Children’s Academy was merely watching out for Natalee. Childhood obesity is a terrifying epidemic that is currently plaguing modern America. When the staff saw Natalee open up a sack of carbs and sweets, they must have wanted to act immediately. According to extensive research, children learn better when they eat healthily. Was the Children’s Academy in the right?

Against Protocol

While the school hasn’t had much to say regarding the now infamous note, the administrative team at the Aurora’s Children Academy did release a statement about the note. Essentially, the administration said that it was not their policy to leave notes in lunches for parents to read at a later time. Whatever faculty member made that decision had done so in error.

Feeling Shamed

While Leeza understood the importance of providing a healthy lunch, she also understood what it was like to be shamed. Leeza would talk about her experience with several publications. Throughout all of her interviews, Leeza kept rounding back on the concept of being publicly shamed. If the school had a problem, why didn’t they contact her directly? Why did they make her child starve first?

Details Come Out

Eventually, it was revealed that the school did not take the lunch away from Natalee. Instead, they traded out the child’s package of Oreos with a cup of tasty fruit. As children tend to do, Natalee threw a tantrum. She refused to eat anything unless she was allowed to have her Oreos back. As it turns out, the school didn’t stop Natalee from eating at all. They merely improved upon her lunch! Still, some parents felt that this was too far.

Crossing a Line

According to Leeza, the biggest problem in this situation was the fact that the school had crossed a serious line. Leeza said, “What the school thinks is healthy for her is not what I think is healthy for her.” Leeza would further emphasize her point by stating that what Natalee eats is between Leeza, Natalee, and her doctor. Leeza also had a great point! If you were in this situation, what would you do as a parent?

Enjoying a Treat

As the controversy continued to roll through the internet, Leeza became more entrenched within her position. She felt like she had been unfairly maligned as a mother who stuffed junk down her family’s throats. That just wasn’t the case, according to Leeza. What’s more, Leeza said that Natalee deserved her Oreos because it was a treat at the end of the week. Leeza says, “She has a full, healthy lunch. And this was Friday! Why not give her a special treat?”

Defending Her Rights

The point of contention between Leeza and the school was quite complicated. From Leeza’s point of view, she had been disrespected as a mother while her child had been forced to go without. From the perspective of the school, they had given Natalee a healthy meal when they felt that Leeza had not. Natalee made matters worse by simply refusing to eat. Who was in the right? Who was in the wrong? Was there a real answer?

Not Your Typical School

If you can remember back to your school-days, try to think about the lunches that you were served. When you were a child, do you remember getting healthy foods for lunch from school? Probably not, right? For a long time, school lunches were something of a joke. That is, at least, until recent legislative changes made by the Department of Education. Now, schools are more in touch with the food that they are serving.

Leaving the School

While both Leeza and the school had their own stances, ultimately there wasn’t enough common ground to salvage a relationship. Leeza decided to pull young Natalee out of the Aurora Children’s Academy in order to bring her to a different school. For Leeza, there was simply too much bad blood shared with the other school. It was time for a change!

Changing Policies

The Chief Communications Officer of the Aurora Public School system is Patti Moon. Moon went public with a statement that seemed to reinforce how Leeza was in the right. According to Moon, the policy of the school system is to keep parents informed about healthy choices. Further, Moon stated that it was never their goal to offer punitive actions in lieu of genuine assistance. The person who had left the note had clearly overstepped school policy.

Your Own Stance

If you are a parent or aspire to be one someday, how would you react to this situation? Would you side with Leeza? Would you want absolute control over the food your child ate, even if it was unhealthy? Or do you side with the school system? Do you want the school to offer healthy alternatives as well as healthy food reinforcement practices?

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Parenting

Chaperoning a Kindergarten Class: Not as Easy as It Looks

Sherry Rucherman

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When you see a group of kids out with their teachers, you might be worried that their group will get in front of you in line. But you probably don’t think much else about the large, organized group sharing your space in the museum, restaurant, or wherever.

The children are usually in pairs, holding hands, and walk single file down rows and sidewalks. The whole thing seems so organized that anyone who has never actually been on one of these field trips as an adult doesn’t realize how much work goes into making those trips manageable.

Daddy Blogger 

Clint Edwards is the owner of a blog called “No idea what I’m doing: a daddy blog.” Like most first time parents, he quickly came to the realization that parenting was not what he expected.  Children are their own little people, and any expectations he started with were quickly crushed. 

In his blog, Clint talks about the adventures he gets to have as a parent.  He blogs about how he came to spend so much time with his children, and how different his life was before them. He talks about challenges, like supporting his daughter with ADHD. In one recent blog, he recounts how a coworker told him how tough he makes parenting look. But Clint knows he has great kids, and nothing can make up for the magic of being a parent.

Volunteering Looked Easy

Most schools welcome parent volunteers during field trips, and some would have difficulty without the extra help. Having parents means being able to split into smaller groups, so each adult only has to keep eyes on a smaller number of kids at once.

Clint volunteered to chaperone his daughter’s kindergarten class when they got to make a trip to a pumpkin patch. He was responsible for keeping track of just five small kids, which sounds perfectly doable. 

Other People’s Kids Are Harder 

While he is glad he volunteered, and happy he got to spend extra time with his daughter, Clint was shocked at how much more difficult it was than he thought. 

He was only with the group for four hours, but spent the time worrying he’d lose one of the children and something horrible would happen. There were other problems, like mud and strange smells, and he worried that he wouldn’t be able to keep the children clean, safe, and behaving. 

Teachers As Heroes

Even while he worried, the teachers were in charge, making it look easy.  They got the children to change shoes at the beginning and end of the trip, and they kept everyone focused on the trip. Not only did they do a great job keeping order, they did it all with patience and big smiles on their faces.

Clint says he hasn’t had a drink for 16 years, but he really wanted to after the field trip. Instead, he had a handful of Tylenol, a long, hot soak in the bathtub, and more cookies than he really needed. 

Gratitude 

Clint quickly realized that he had no problem spending the day with his own children, but being responsible for other people’s children is much harder. He realizes teaching is not the job for him, but he has so much respect for the teachers who dedicate their lives to their students. 

Clint wants to send a message to teachers about what a great job they’re doing, and to parents that they should thank their children’s teachers and give them a pat on the back. 

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Parenting

Getting a Toddler to Sleep – Mission Impossible

Leslie Tander

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Women are often told as they are about to have a child, “enjoy your sleep, it’s about to end.” Disregard the fact that most women in their third trimester already can’t sleep well due to discomfort and movement inside on a regular basis. And, no surprise, once the newborn happens, sleep does disappear, as if on command. Instead, the ritual of feeding just about every hour makes a zombie out of almost the hardiest of women with a newborn.

Add in the mix of doing something wrong, of SIDS occurring while the child does sleep, and trying to learn everything in what seems like nature’s crash course sprinkled with tons of relatives offering annoying advice that doesn’t apply, and sleep seems to literally disappear for a year or two altogether. So once the toddler years come along, and a 2-year-old doesn’t want to now go to sleep on schedule, vocalizing it quite loudly at times, finding a sure-fire method for one’s own sanity and the resting health of the child becomes a must.

Interestingly, moms who allow their newborns and babies to fall asleep on them figure out very quickly that it’s one of the few things that actually works amazingly well in knocking out a little one. And this, of course, sets up the issue of how long should this pattern continue, even when it works really well with toddler as well. It’s not a shocking surprise, a mother’s heartbeat is a very fundamental, natural calming sound for a baby child. Almost instinctually, the child knows protection and sleep from pregnancy days, like an ingrained memory. But it also sets up a mother as a regular sleep aid too, which creates complications.

First, kids grow. And that means they get heavy. Just holding them all the time becomes physically impossible. Try holding a bucket of water with your arm power. It’s the same idea, eventually even the strongest person realizes they won’t last long. So, the approach morphs into rocking, crouching and eventually comes the issue of the toddler falling asleep with mom in the parent’s bed.

Culturally, Americans frown on the idea of a toddler falling asleep in the parents’ room. The child needs to learn to sleep on his or her own, so we believe. Yet in many other cultures children are allowed to fall asleep with their parents, and its as normal as eating or drinking. So, did we somehow get it wrong in the U.S. and we’re missing out on the magical sleep we all want at night and can’t get as new parents? Well, maybe so.

The fact is, many parents trying the sleeping together approach are going to find they and the child are getting better sleep. And once the child is comatose, it’s fairly easy to carry the sleeping ruggle to his or her bed and get back in one’s own without worry. So, exactly where is the problem? It may very well be our own cultural stigmas hang up our ability to get decent sleep with a newborn more than necessary. And if that’s really the case, parents should really focus on doing what works best for them and their child. The heck with what Grandma thinks.

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Parenting

College is a Family Affair for this Mother-Daughter Duo

Mackenzie Freeman

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Imagine walking into the first day of classes as a freshman in college. You sit down in the front row and watch other students start to file in. Next thing you know, your mom enters the room, sporting a new backpack and a freshly sharpened pencil. No, you didn’t leave your lunch at home or forget your gloves. Mom is also taking this class.

This is exactly what happened to 16-year-old Emma and her stay-at-home mom, 37-year-old Kathy.

When Emma tested out of high school after only 3 days of attendance by taking the Texas Success Initiative test, she decided to enroll in the University of North Texas. Kathy, a mother of three, was so inspired by the achievements and success of her oldest daughter, that she decided that she was going to enroll as well.

When Kathy started having kids she decided to be a stay-at-home mom. That meant that any idea of going to college went out the window. But her daughter’s academic success, testing out of high school and getting both her high school diploma and associates degree at the age of 15, inspired Kathy. She decided to take a chance and give college a try. Something she thought she’d never get again.

“The first day of class, the professor, of course, says, ‘You guys have the same last name. Are you sisters?’… I’m like, ‘I’m her mother,’ and Emma at first was so embarrassed,” Kathy said. 

While some may think that Kathy was there to help Emma, the opposite is actually true.

“A lot of times she was helping me!” Kathy exclaimed.

Emma, who thinks of her mom as her best friend, now thinks it’s great that she gets to share her college experience with her mom. They go to football games and hang out with their other classmates and friends together. At first, she was embarrassed to have her mom around all the time, but then realized what an opportunity it was for them both.

“Going to college together just makes our friendship so much stronger,” Emma noted. “No matter what, she’s going to be there to support me and she’ll love me no matter what.” 

While Emma may not have realized that “being there” meant literally in the next seat while sitting in English 101, she is grateful to share the college experiences with her mom.

After 20 years out of school, Kathy is working hard and is grateful she has her daughter as a classmate and for helping her so much. “I think initially professors think somehow I’m going to help her, when the truth is, a lot of times she was helping me.”

While many folks may have been horrified at the idea of sharing their college experience with their moms, Emma and Kathy are a positive example of how it can work. The mother-daughter duo plans on attending medical school together after finishing up their coursework for their bachelor’s degrees. 

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