Held back by love

A special-education student will remain with her friends

At the end of this school year, Mrs. Davie's fourth-grade class at McKinney's Glen Oaks Elementary School had expected to be saying goodbye to Kathryn Benton, who is two years older than her classmates and was slated to attend a special-education program in a McKinney middle school next year.

Afflicted with Angelman syndrome, a form of mental retardation, Kathryn cannot talk and has limited intellectual capacity. But after a May 9 Observer story, "The halo club," about the special relationship between Kathryn and Emily Faber, a gifted fourth grader, school principal Isiah Joshua decided the girls needed to stay together.

"The article helped me to see that Kathryn needed to be here one more year," says Joshua. "You could see they were friends, that they had a good relationship, but the article allowed me to get inside the friendship. It let me be a part of it. I realized it was important for her to stay. This is the group to which she belongs."

As she did this year, Kathryn will spend half of each day during the next school year with special-education teacher Holly Clemons. The rest of her day will be spent with a regular fifth-grade class.

"The plan was not for Kathryn to stay at the elementary school," says her mother Paula Benton. "But the article brought to everyone's attention how special the relationship is. We're just thrilled."

No one, however, is more thrilled than Emily Faber, who considers Kathryn her best friend. "I'm very, very, very, very happy," says Emily. "Kathryn gets to be with her friends and I get to be with her next year and in middle school and in high school."

--Ann Zimmerman

 
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