My professional life started with an opportunity to teach a self-contained classroom in the deafblind program. My very first student, Kyle, changed my life. He was bright, funny, smart, stubborn all rolled up in a little body with ears that didn’t hear and eyes that didn’t see. We used tactile sign language and took on the world together hand under hand. I was lucky enough to have a talented mentor teacher and a paraprofessional who lived outside of the box right alongside of me. We had a tiny classroom but big experiences. Our little program grew and we created magic for several years in our little world. That’s where it all started for me.
My students and me running The Warrior Dash (New England)
I have recently had the great experience of spending the last seven years with typically developing students as well as those with multiple impairments. My school age kids have taken me to some of the sweetest adventures I have ever had in my whole life. I have watched them start out as shy kids who didn’t really want to or couldn’t explain their vision impairment to confident, kick-your-butt young adults. These school age students were the ones that taught me how to teach the Expanded Core Curriculum to typically developing kids. It was them that inspired me to see that the ECC is not just a curriculum, it’s a way of life. In fact, it is the key to having a quality life. I am such a better teacher because they let me practice a lot of crazy, out of the box ideas with them. We have jumped over fire together, taken on NYC, had dozens of community lessons at Target, eaten A LOT of Oreos together, stayed up late at student intern meetings, talked, texted, learned and grew together. So to Cody, Cooper, Leah, Michelle, Frankie Ann, Lauren, Gissel, Jose, Christopher, Tanajiah, Joe, Jimmy and truly a list of names that could go on for forever, I say thank you. Thank you for being “my students”.
When I first started teaching my little deafblind program, I woke up every day with the thought that I could be part of the change in the world for children with vision impairments. Ten years later, I wake up with the same thought. It’s been a beautiful adventure and I know it is only going to get better because I keep meeting awesome students that continue to change my life.