My mother ran an in-home daycare the whole time I was growing up. My youngest cousin was born with a disability and born deaf, and my mom cared for her in our home. My mom took a lot of kids with special needs into her daycare from then on, so from a really young age I was able to work with children with cerebral palsy, autism – different developmental disabilities. That sort of molded my career path, I would say.
I actually started my college career in international business. And it just sort of all came back to this purpose: I felt a longing and a passion for working with people with disabilities. My junior year, I changed my major to study special education at Indiana Wesleyan University. It was the best decision.
Back when I was teaching special education in an elementary setting, we got to work with these kids from kindergarten through fifth grade. So they become like your babies. You become a family member. You need patience and persistence and resilience because that’s not always easy. But in the end, when we send those kiddos off to their next school, it’s really life-giving.
I never thought that I would leave the classroom, and I anticipate that someday – who knows when that will be – I would maybe end up back in the classroom. When we go into the classrooms for field placements, I leave just so desperately missing working with these little ones with disabilities. But then I’m reminded that my reach through these young men and women in the Goshen College special education program is much wider than it could be otherwise, potentially.
I think my students know how invested I am in person-centered services. This little person who maybe has Down syndrome is going to have a life after high school, and we get to be a partner in molding what that life is going to look like. The goal is independence and happiness.
There is a major need for good, quality special education teachers who are in it for the long run.
I love our special education program at Goshen College. I love my job. It is so life-giving.
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