volunteering, parenting, trans, disability, family involvement
Austen: I’m wondering what role your partners play in keeping that space a safe space for Stella, if at all, or are you really the person who does that?
Jess: They’re just a little less social. And they’ve got their own occupations. But they’re just as passionate, they’re just as encouraging to her about what she should do. And they’re very supportive to me. And when I said “You know what? I want to add a couple other classes that aren’t directly related to Stella, but are in the same age group” and they said “You know, absolutely.” And that affects our podcast, and how I edit it, and our life, and how fancy dinner is going to be, because of their willingness to send me off. So their attitude is in the right place, I’m just more of an outspoken person.
Stella: How would it make dinner more fancy?
Jess: If I had more time in the morning and afternoon, I would have fancier meals. But because I spend a lot of time at school, reading with kids in the garden. Now this year I take care of an indoor garden, and I put cushions in there and now I’m reading with friends in the garden. Just adding little things, since I’m going to be there so much, I might as well have other stuff to get my attention, and other kids.
Stella: And now she gets more money to do it.
Jess: No, it’s mostly voluntary.
Tara: Mostly voluntary. You were telling our students a little bit about how because you are able to spend the time in the school because of your partners’ support, that you have also found that you’re keeping your eye on a couple of other kids who are also negotiating their differences, and letting their parents know how that’s going. And I thought that was incredibly important work. Can you talk a little bit about that too?
Jess: Yeah well it’s kinda like the most vulnerable. It’s not just kids who are you know, trans or who are identifying as somewhere else on the spectrum than your normal, regular, not regular, but cisgender, heteronormative, whatever. I had a couple students who were autistic, and had a hard time finding their place in the playground. So I would bring them into the JK pen, and they had very specific jobs.
Stella: JK and SK.
Jess: Yep, totally. And if there were any injuries or somebody needed a hand with something, they were my go-to guys. And then that way, those JKs can have their first experience dealing with able-bodied people who are different than them, and how do I talk to them? And I had so many conversations about how people are different because of that.