WONDER: Building Bridges & Strengthening Bonds
by Lara Leigh Bergoon, Assistant Head of School
Building the self-esteem of children is an important part of what we do at The Joy School. With that in mind, inviting our entire Joy School family to a movie like WONDER was a no-brainer for our school community.
The movie chronicles a year in the life of a young boy with facial deformities. Auggie, the main character of the movie, is attending "real school" for the first time in fifth grade. The movie is especially poignant for a Joy school family – having a child who struggles with differences, the fear of acceptance, starting a new school and more.
While TJS parents and kids alike can relate to Auggie's trials, the maternal role hit home with many of our parents on a deep level.
The fierceness of Julia Roberts' facial expressions portraying a mom watching her son grow up and not being able to protect him from teasing hits any mom square in the heart. The inner pull of wanting her son to grow in his independence, wanting other kids to be nice to her son, balancing the complicated dynamics of family life when one child requires more attention than others are all aspects of life that Joy School families live with everyday.
As a non-neighborhood school, The Joy School recognizes it is important to provide opportunities for Joy School families to get together informally to build community and find friends – both for students and their parents. Viewing this movie together as a community was an important way to provide a springboard for starting conversations among families about the similarities between Auggie's family and their own. Similarly, viewing the movie with a group of people you know understand the world in the same way you do was meaningful and special.
The feedback on the movie and on the event was phenomenal - 76 TJS community members came out, including alumni! We look forward to more events like this in the future.
About the Author
Lara Leigh Bergoon joined The Joy School staff in 2003, became Principal in 2005 and took on the role of Assistant Head of School in 2017. She graduated from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science in Curriculum and Instruction and began her teaching career in public schools. She discovered The Joy School while completing course work at the Neuhaus Education Center in an effort to help her son, who has dyslexia. Lara Leigh hopes her experiences as an educator and a parent of a child with learning differences help her to be a knowledgeable and compassionate guide for students and parents in their educational decision making.