As some of you know, I have a teaching degree which I received from the University of Victoria. I’ve had many great experiences with children but after my degree I had the opportunity to work as a teacher’s assistant with a special needs child. Now why would I want to do this when I was a teacher? Well I wanted to work in the background and work one on one with a student. I had not worked with a special needs child before but I had worked at a deaf camp as a teenager and had studied Sign Language.
I had no idea what to expect but I was open to meeting this student. She had Williams Syndrome and had an outgoing personality. I learned so much from working with her. Let’s call her Julie as a reference point. What moved me most about her was her willingness to say it like it is however she felt and I admired that about her. She longed for friendships and wanted to belong like everyone else. It was hard for her because she was in a regular classroom and often other students didn’t want to work with her because she worked at a different pace or wasn’t able to contribute the way they expected her to. What I grew to love about Julie was her outgoing nature, she wasn’t afraid to chat to people and she had such a vivid imagination.
She loved Mr. Wilson from the movie “Cast Away” starring Tom Hanks in which his character talks to the basketball. Well Julie had a basketball in her locker and one day she kept calling it Wilson. She would look at her wrist (which had no watch on it) and talk to it and the basketball. It was quite comical and I played along of course. For me the challenge was to teach her and help her in her education but at the time I had to learn to work around her challenges and get involved in her imaginary world.
The bond that Julie and I made was amazing and I wouldn’t change it for the world. In the end I really was her teacher and I did her whole curriculum and her report card but I was only paid a teacher’s assistant salary. I loved the job though so the following year I worked as a teacher on call and got to teach Julie several times but it was hard for her to see me in a different role then she was used too.
This was many years ago but I still see Julie from time to time and it’s like time has not passed because she chats to me just like she always did with that same outgoing personality and endearing nature.
They just see the world and you a little differently. Look past what you see and recognize their beautiful soul.
Has someone in your life impacted you lately?