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School Choices Pt 2 – Choosing The Madonna School

2020-09-22T10:34:15-05:00Categories: Grown Ups & Downs|Tags: , , , |

So we left off last blog at the impasse between the public school system and me when Marcus was not yet 5 years old. What happened next is someone told me about a local school for special needs students called the Madonna School.

“OK. We’ll look into it.”

In 1995 we toured the school, a small converted church in Benson, desperate for an option…We were greeted by book pages covering the principal’s floor. He apologized for the disarray, explaining he was creating the 40 odd math syllabuses for the nearly 50 students.

“Wait-” I said. “You don’t force everyone into three peg-hole options?” Marcus was only five years old and I already displayed battle fatigue from our public school experiences. The idea of school staff being on the same team as Marcus, of our educating and preparing him together to face the world-that concept created hope.

Madonna School – From Magical Moments to Working Wonders

2013-11-03T18:27:39-06:00Categories: Grown Ups & Downs|Tags: , , , |

At this time last year, my writing, my energy and my focus was spent primarily on the Madonna School Celebration event. My mad-party reputation got me the gig, I’m pretty sure, and I spent over a year planning a magical evening. With the help of the talented Jeff Quinn, Jennifer Haase, Curtis Neesen and the Madonna School students, the room practically levitated.

If in doubt, check out this awesome video...

Coming Out of the “Special School” Closet (Again)

2016-07-31T11:51:06-05:00Categories: Grown Ups & Downs|Tags: , , , , , , , , |


Let’s talk a little about my view from the private-special-school-closet where I wave outside but often wait to tell other advocates/parents of our choice to enroll Marcus in a “special school.”

Benefits of Inclusion in the Public Schools


I admit, there is absolutely no doubt, inclusion of students with special needs in the general-ed classrooms which offer a safe and positive environment are beneficial to all of the students and community. I am familiar with the research that shows students in inclusive classrooms are often more

When it Comes to my Son with Down Syndrome, I’m Not an Optimist

2019-07-07T19:22:54-05:00Categories: Grown Ups & Downs|Tags: , , , |

“We can still come back and win. It’ll only take 2 touchdowns and a field goal,” I said to my grandfather during one of the many brutal football bowl games of my childhood.

“No. They won’t.” He sat with his arms crossed, defeat accepted, but he still watched the game to the end.

“You’re a pessimist.” I moved to the floor in front of the TV.

“I’m a realist,” he said.

A Pessimist, an Optimist, a Realist

“A realist,” he explained to me, “doesn’t think the worst will happen every

Year End and Christmas Letter Time!

2016-12-04T16:33:28-06:00Categories: Grown Ups & Downs|Tags: , |

presentsChristmas letter time!!

Every time I create a Christmas letter, I think about all of you. I think about all I wish you were telling me about your life, your families, your year. Some of you send Christmas letters, too. Which I love and enjoy! This year I’m going to make it really easy on you to tell me what’s up. Just wait ‘till the end of this note, I’ll tell you how.

It seems a little odd writing an update of this year

The Night I Spoke the Words

2016-08-03T10:27:27-05:00Categories: Grown Ups & Downs|Tags: , , , , , |

words in the worldI often filter my words, try to cook them down to the best bits, and parcel out what I share in any given story, however, sometimes, when I do not parcel, the words hit their mark. The point is made because the truth stands unfiltered.

“What is most personal is most general.” – Carl Rogers.

When I shared the words “What are you going to do when he grows up?” written almost exactly as they came

This Summer – Are You Kidding Me?

2019-04-28T08:32:21-05:00Categories: Grown Ups & Downs|Tags: , , , , , , , |

First Pitch

Last night Marcus threw the “first pitch” at our local baseball field, home of the Omaha Storm Chasers. Our DSA, the Down Syndrome Alliance of the Midlands, invited him to represent. (He took the position seriously check out the fun video at the end of this post of his prep and pitch.) 

Marcus Sikora and Carlos Gonzalez Photography by Jensen Sutta And courtesy of Global Down Syndrome Foundation Marcus Sikora and Carlos Gonzalez Photography by Jensen Sutta
And courtesy of Global Down

IQ, Creativity, & Looking For a Job

2016-01-06T21:50:03-06:00Categories: Grown Ups & Downs|Tags: , , , , , , |

I have begun the process of applying for assistance with the Department of Health and Human Services. I’m told this is something we should have done years ago because it is an arduous process with a looonnngggg waiting list for services. Having sent the initial application and appropriate medical forms, I have one last set of paperwork to send: his MDT and IEPS. You other parents are likely already familiar with these acronyms, but in case not, the MDT is a Multi-Disciplinary Team (evaluation) and the IEP is Individualized Education Program (Plan in the UK).

OK – still with me?


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