Remote learning has challenged everyone in Irving ISD to change the game, but many were changing the game long before school went virtual in the spring semester. For parents Tameka Womack and Marcus Walton, overcoming obstacles and surpassing expectations is something they and their son Kian do every day.

Each day of remote learning starts off with Marcus getting Kian ready for a day of learning. For Kian, a first grader at Johnston Elementary School, the mornings can be tough. But his parents have done everything in their power to create consistency and structure in their home classroom.

Kian has autism and ADHD, both adding an extra layer of complexity to remote learning. Although they knew this new learning environment would be a challenge, Kian’s parents knew he was more than capable.

“I don’t really know how to explain to you how amazing he really is, his learning ability. You can’t underestimate the things he’s capable of. He surprises us daily,” says Marcus. 

They began remote learning with some uncertainty of how to best cater to Kian’s specific learning needs, but Tameka and Marcus have partnered with his teachers to keep him engaged in learning. And of course, it’s the victories along the way that keep them going.

“One of the issues that we had in the beginning of quarantine was I couldn’t get him to understand ‘greater than’ and ‘less than.’ It was one of those things where I didn’t know if he was really retaining it,” says Marcus. “But when we got back to school at the end of the summer, one of the teachers asked a question about it, and he answered it with ease. It amazed me. The teachers were laughing at me because I was celebrating for him. I am just  so happy when he does stuff like that, and he does it a lot. He surprises us.”

These victories are a sweet surprise for his parents, but Kian’s teachers know they can be attributed to the hard work and dedication of Tameka and Marcus.

“When COVID happened, we didn’t know how that would affect him. Fortunately for him, his parents are on top of his learning,” says Sandra Rutter, Kian’s special education case manager. “His parents are there, working with him and so dedicated to his success. They are the reason he is where he is right now.”

Perhaps sweeter than seeing their son succeed in the classroom is the special bond Tameka and Marcus have created with Kian during the months spent closely together. 

“From the spring semester to now the fall semester, the one thing that Marcus expressed is he feels that he knows Kian better,” says Tameka. “You [typically] only see one side of your child, you don’t see them in school. I definitely have seen a change in their relationship for the better, with more trust and understanding from both sides.”

Although remote learning has certainly had its challenges for their family, Tameka and Marcus are confident that if they can do it, others can too. 

“Don’t give up,”  says Tameka. “Don’t give up on yourself, don’t give up on your kid. It will be ok. It is so tough, but it will be ok.”