I'll never forget the first time I met Tyson. It was my first day at Decatur Elementary School in Seattle and I was eager to get to know the students. Tyson approached me and with grin a mile wide, said, "Hi! My name is Tyson. Who are you?"
I told him my name and asked how his first day of school was going. He responded, "Great! I'm in first grade and I have lots of friends!" When I asked him the names of some of his friends, he said, "Oh I don't know their names. But I know they are my friends. And that's more important anyway."
Soon Tyson began visiting my second/ third grade classroom. One day Jason, a third grader in my classroom, mentioned that Tyson was his brother. Since I don't learn names very quickly, I had not noticed that Tyson and Jason both had the same last name. In the weeks that followed, I was surprised to find that Tyson and Jason were twins. Because of health complications that had also impaired Tyson's cognitive functions, he was in the first grade while Jason was in third grade.
Tyson had been born without a kidney, and they were still searching for a match. He had numerous health complications and operations in his eight years of life. He had a slight limp and his feet were turned inward. His stature was short and seemingly bloated. His gait was somewhere between a walk and a waddle.
Tyson drew people to him like a magnet. He loved having an audience; he was like a court jester. But he struggled academically. Lorna, his nurse, accompanied him to classes and assisted him with his schoolwork; he also received special education and speech therapy services. Despite the many physical and mental challenges he faced, the other students easily accepted Tyson as he was.