In October 2012, I packed up everything and moved 900 miles from the state I was born and raised. Leaving behind my family and friends to start a new life close to the beach. No job? No problem! There was no rush for me to find a job right away.
That January, I began substitute teaching for Santa Rosa County and looking at different job openings. I knew with the school year being nearly half way over the idea of landing a job before the year was out would be difficult. In February, I saw the position for ESE PreK teacher, and after reading the description, I though, "Why not?". A couple days later, I was in the principal’s office being offered the position if I wanted it. It was a few days later that I found out that my class had already been through 3 teachers before I was hired that year. There was a bet going on among some staff on how long I would last.
I came into my position with little experience teaching children with special needs. In Ohio I was a one-on-one aide with a student that had an IEP, but that was it. So my first year teaching I spent a lot of time in my coworkers’ classrooms asking them to explain this and that. Then there were countless hours searching the Internet, reading research and watching videos. I wanted to find out everything! I wanted to help my babies the best that I could. (Yes I am one of those teachers that refers to their students as their kiddos/babies) I am not going to lie, that first year was hard. My first year was also the best thing that EVER happened to me! At the end of that year there were 10 kiddos in my class and I was still there! I WON!
I absolutely love what I do every day! I am the teacher that once they are mine, they always will be mine. I try to keep in touch with the families that are willing, make trips to visit when they move, go to therapy sessions, watch T-ball/karate/dance recitals, and visit them at the NICU at hospitals near and in other states. People do not realize how much their children mean to me and what lengths I would go to help them. More than anything, I want these things for my students...
- I want them to be productive members of society at their level.
- I want them to be independent.
- I want them to be proud of themselves and their accomplishments.
- I want them to know just how much I love them.
- Most of all I want them to be themselves!
If they leave my classroom with these things, I have done my job.
Even though it happened by chance, not a day goes by that I think of changing a thing about my job. I look into my kiddos eyes each year, and every time I fall in love again. Becoming ESE was one of the greatest things that ever happened to me.