This I Believe

Maria - Las Cruces, New Mexico
Entered on May 3, 2007

Advocate

I believe in advocating for special education students. I have worked as a special education assistant for 14 years working in a high school for 3 years and 11 years in an elementary school. Many special education children have a learning disability. These are the children that are in my classroom. For the last 3 years I have worked with “Diane”. Diane came to my classroom when she was in 3rd grade. She was the child that stayed at the back of the classroom to avoid any attention. Diane has trouble with her comprehension skills. She is a 5th grader reading at a 7th grade level. Her reading is beautiful, like listening to a poet reciting his/her work.

Diane was very timid and quiet when she first came to my room. Working with her I noticed that she was also very sheltered by her mother. Diane lacked knowledge of certain milestones in life such as first crush, first bully, death of a parent or sibling, etc. One day the class was reading a chapter book. While we read along we came upon a place in the story where the dad died. Immediately Diane’s face lost all expression, her eyes began to water and she cried uncontrollably. I took Diane aside and asked what was wrong. After composing herself she told me she was crying because the dad died. I asked why that made her so sad. She told me she did not know that parents died. I asked if her mom had ever shared with her stories about death. As a parent I want to prepare my children for life. Making children independent and self-sufficient is a parents’ duty. Just like a lioness teaches her cubs to play, defend and feed its self.

When children are born a parents instinct is to protect and assist. However there comes a time after a parent has given his/her child all the protection awareness and tools for self help that a child must experience life: success, failure, independence, responsibility, etc. If there is too much sheltering children might learn about it from an unfamiliar person, like in Diane’s case.

Diane has moved on and continues to blossom with her shyness and comprehension skills. When Diane came to my classroom I could barely hear her. Now Diane asks questions, can go to and from classrooms and will speak up for herself.

The end result is the ultimate reward for Diane, the winner in this game we call life.

This is the story of an educational assistant that is pursuing her bachelor’s degree in special education at the age of 38. Special education students need a voice; I think I can provide that voice for this population. I believe in advocating when and where it is needed.