Day Ten: write about something for which you feel strongly.
As most of you know, I am a special education teacher at Carthage High School. I started my teaching career at East Newton where I taught 4th, 5th, and 6th grade special education. Regardless of what age group I’ve taught, one thing remains the same: I am passionate about my students.
When I started college at Missouri State, I didn’t have intentions of teaching special education. I’m so glad the path for SpEd opened, though. My mom was a SpEd teacher while I was growing up so I’ve been around students with special needs most of my life. When I tell people that I am a special education teacher, their response is typically something like “oh, your job takes a special person” or “I could never do what you do.” I think teaching in general takes a special person, regardless of whether or not you have gifted learners or students that need a some extra help. I’m no one great – I just love the heck out of my kids. I had a student once who loved to hug. I laugh when I think about her because she was such an inappropriate hugger. She would come up behind a person and squeeze them so hard, their eyes would nearly pop out of their head. Because of this, most people were turned off by her. They didn’t want her to come near them, and I can’t blame them. They were afraid she’d squeeze the life out of them. Over the course of her year with me, we talked about what an appropriate hug looked like and that before you hug a person, it’s polite to ask them if they even want a hug. 🙂 I loved this girl so much. I loved her hugs. She wasn’t always clean. I usually helped her brush her hair once she got to class because at home, fixing your hair just wasn’t a priority. She was this tiny girl but had the squeeze of a python. I had a teacher tell me one time that they didn’t know how I could let this girl hug me. I’m telling you – the Mama Bear in me came roaring out. How could I let her hug me every day? It was easy. She felt loved and she felt special when someone hugged her. And isn’t that what we all want? To feel loved and accepted? And isn’t that my job as a teacher, let alone a human being, to be someone that made her feel loved? One morning, I was early to work so out of curiosity, I decided to drive by this girl’s house. I’m telling you, I hadn’t cried like that before. I saw her huddled up on the porch, waiting on the bus. It was cold out. Her house was the size of a closet. And to be honest, I’m not sure anyone should have been living in that house. I thought to myself in that moment that I would never, ever turn down a hug from her. Ever.
Every day, I get to be an advocate for students that might otherwise never have someone in their corner. I’m not saying this boastfully or to make anyone think that I’m the best teacher that has ever walked the earth. I know that I’m not. But this I do know: I will always, always be a voice for my kids that don’t have one. When people tell me that they don’t know how I do what I do, I like to tell them that if they’d walk in my shoes for one day, there is so much they could learn from my kids. They teach me something new every single day. They teach me how to love without limit and to be silly and not take life so seriously. They teach me how to laugh. I will always fight for them. I will always be passionate about my students. I will always do my best to make sure they know that I love them. My job is stressful a lot of days, but I do it because this is what my heart was made to do. Remember on The Grinch when he says that his heart grew three sizes? Sometimes I feel like that, when I see my kids reaching one of their goals or learning something new, my heart is so happy. This is what I was made to do.