Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Oasis

No, not this Oasis

It's (almost) official!  

On Tuesday we had a meeting with Maya's new school.  We finished her paperwork and they set 14 March as Maya's first day.  Although we still don't have the approval from the government, after reviewing Maya's file and seeing that she absolutely fits the right profile of the school, they feel totally confident in setting her first day.  In principle it is delivered, but maybe not quite yet signed and sealed.  Hoping, hoping......

The last few weeks have been busy with the new school.  They have observed Maya in her current school 3 times.  They found Maya to be a very sweet girl but also after 6 hours observation feels she will fit in well at the school which I am just going to start calling The Oasis (as that is a lot easier than its true name De Heldringschool) and also that they already see, both through observation but also reading her file and talking with the current school but also her last school, that Maya has a lot of possibilities to develop herself much further than she is now.  32 days to go!

Not this Oasis either
Sing it!  That's music!

We have filled out all the paperwork now and have filled out the information to arrange transport to The Oasis, the only downside is the oasis is pretty far away.  In the far North of Amsterdam and it is without traffic about half an hour commute but will take more like 45 minutes most days.  I am not wild about that but there really just is nothing closer and Maya was already used to a half hour commute and she enjoys being in the car, so hopefully this will not be a hardship for her.

I have informed her current school and proposed to them that Maya have her last day there on Friday, March 4.  Leo and I feel that it will be very difficult for Maya to end at one school on Friday and start the next Monday at The Oasis so we have asked for a week's break for her which we have gotten permission for (for all my American friends, it is very difficult to pull your kid out of school during school days, you need written authorization from the district for that), but the school easily recognized that Maya needs extra time to make the transition and that the break is absolutely necessary for Maya to make a good start at the Oasis.

Actually this means that after this week Maya only has two more weeks at her current school.  After next week, there is a one week school vacation and then Maya only goes back for one more week.

Maya is not yet aware that she will be leaving her current school.  Over the Christmas break, because of the situation of ending her therapy group we told her we were looking for a new school for her, one where she could be happier and be able to learn more.  I don't know (but wonder how much of that has stuck with her). We have to prepare her well and not just spring it on her, but after discussing it with Leo we feel that it is too soon also because the schedule at school is chaotic.One week on and off for a little bit.   She is not really into marking things off on the calendar even though that is visual.  If we tell her now, she will think she is going to the Oasis next week and it just gets a little too complicated for her.  Leo and I have decided to wait until after next week to prepare her for her last week at her old school and to prepare her for her new school.  I think that will be enough time to adequately prepare her without making it too complicated.

The website does not have a lot of photos, mostly just of the kids but I love their mission statement, which is (and I am translating from Dutch).

"[The Oasis] offers special education to students with disabilities from ages 4-20.  We challenge our students through an individual approach to develop their unique talents in a secure environment.  Our professional team stimulates students to function independently to the best of their abilities in areas such as living, work and free time.  We focus on the development of language, mathematics, creativity, social and practical skills and we use modern learning methods, equipment and tests.  Where possible we stimulate our students to pursue further education (either through the standard educational system, vocational education and other options)."

Ok, it's just a damn mission statement, anyone can do a good spin on anything but there are two words in there that I love - individual and talents.  I am not going to get into a diatribe about Dutch society, but believe me that individuality is not a hallmark of Dutch society.  The Dutchies are all about rules and group think and conformity.  Could this place really be an oasis in a sea of there-is-only-one-way-to-do-everything-land?  

Two months ago I was angry and almost despondent over Maya's situation, now I am (cautiously) hopeful again.  Of course the cynic in me is afraid we have only just seen the window dressing and after we buy we will again be in a Dutch factory where all widgets have to be exactly the same.  But my bullshit meter is very well tuned and I recognize lip service from 3 towns over and I have felt nothing of the sort with The Oasis.  Maybe they are just very good at hiding it, but I am choosing the glass to be half full rather than half empty.  

Those 32 days can't come fast enough for me!


  1. Having just experienced inappropriate school hell, I have everything crossed for you guys and Maya.

    It sounds to me like this oasis won't disappear as you get closer!

  2. Thanks Valerie, fingers and toes are crossed. I'll post an update after she starts!