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Mrs. Buck has been blessing our family and the lives of countless other Horizon Elementary students for years now.
After my daughter Kelsey sustained a traumatic brain injury when she was two and a half, there were many who told me that her long-term outcome would be grim at best. Right temporal and frontal lobe damage took away most of her impulse control and left her with behavioral and developmental issues that seemed destined to severely limit her potential. Enter an angel in the form of Merlene Buck.
For the past five years, Mrs. Buck has worked alongside our family to help Kelsey reach her full potential. She has been working with Kelsey since kindergarten, and her efforts have been tireless. She helps when she needs to, steps back when she can, and quietly pushes independence at every turn. She continues to raise the academic and social bar for Kelsey and then provide the ongoing support to allow Kelsey to reach it, only to raise it again and keep going.
As Kelsey's one-on-one aide she has worked beside her, stood behind her and gently pushed, and led the way in making sure Kelsey has the skills she needs to interact with other students and staff in the school and become as self-sufficient as possible. She has been equally amazing in coaching other people as they interact with Kelsey so that the experience is more positive for all involved, so many besides Kelsey have been able to benefit from her example and experience.
Thanks in no small part to her tireless efforts, Kelsey continues to make steady academic and social progress. She is now in the fourth grade and doing fabulously. She loves school, learning and Mrs. Buck—not necessarily in that order.
We as a family will be forever grateful to Mrs. Buck for her amazing spirit, dauntless enthusiasm and ceaseless efforts to help Kelsey and other special-needs children find and reach their fullest potential, both as students and as human beings.
I couldn't find an application for sainthood anywhere, but awarding Merlene Buck the "Teacher Feature" award seems the very least we can do instead. Please consider this amazing woman as a recipient of this honor. She truly exemplifies the power of one determined person to make a difference in the life of a child.