From a Future Special Education Teacher: Stop Doubting Me

From a Future Special Education Teacher: Stop Doubting Me

My career choice and major are not your concern, so please stop trashing something you know nothing about.

At the end of my freshman year in high school I began to tell my family, friends, and anyone who would listen about my passion for Special Education, and my love for the special-needs community, and how I wanted to spend the rest of my life working with and for this community through majoring in special-education, in order to become a teacher. Immediately I was hit with "you don't realize just how difficult those kids are", "I don't think you realize just how much work that's going to be, it's a thankless job" and even "I think you are going to find yourself miserable working with people like that, they hit, they kick and bite, they tend to get very violent, and I think you're going to find that you'll walk in on day one and find yourself to be miserable". In all honesty hearing these comments hurt, not because I was crushed that they had ripped on my ability to work with these incredible individuals, but because never having experienced it themselves, those who were closest to me were willing to believe stigmas over hearing about my own personal experiences. People who have never interacted with an individual with special-needs were more willing to believe the lies the media and society had told them, rather than giving these kids, and ultimately myself, a chance to prove their thoughts wrong.

I continued the rest of my three years in high school refusing to give up on my dream of becoming an incredible teacher, and by June of the summer before my senior year, I had applied and been admitted to my dream school, one that had a fantastic special-education program, and encouraged me to go out and make the impact I so hoped to make. Yet, as I told some of these same family and friends this, they had very similar responses. Now it was "you're wasting your money on a degree that you are going to be miserable in the field of" and "You cannot possibly be serious, what exactly do you plan on doing with that degree?" that those who doubted and discouraged me felt the need to voice. Luckily, I'm a stubborn person, and I refuse to listen to the opinion of others until I have proved myself wrong or right, so off I went, determined as ever to be an incredible teacher who really makes an impact.

Now, just finishing my first semester as a special-education (for student's with cognitive impairments) major, I cannot imagine myself doing anything else, I proved to myself that this career is where I am meant to be. I feel at home in all of my education classes, and I am excited to learn about how to be the best teacher I can possibly be, and truly better the lives of my students. I work my absolute butt off, and pulled the highest GPA I have ever had, as I am passionate about what it is I am learning, and want to be able to deliver it to my future students. I cannot tell you that these people have stopped trying to discourage me thought, if anything it has gotten worse, especially since I have never backed down or allowed them to changed I believe in, myself, and my ability to be a fantastic special-educator that makes a huge impact on her students.

So to those who have worked so hard to convince me to go other routes, a doctor, a lawyer, or even a politician, please do not waste any more breath on this hopeless case. My mom used to say "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all", but to you I'll say "if you don't have anything positive to say about my career choice, keep your mouth shut", because I don' want to hear it. It is not your life, it is not your "mistake" (not that I can agree with that), and ultimately, it is not your money being spent. So, save your energy and bother someone else, since this girl is ready to better the lives of everyone in the special-needs community, by changing how the world and society sees them. Watch me succeed and applaud me, or sit on the bench silently, at this point in life, so many incredible people are encouraging me, that your opinion matters none.

And hey, my classroom would love volunteers when I get there, if you ever really want to see what a successful and fulfilling career looks like! My students I'm sure would sure love to steal your heart, as every student I have worked with has stolen mine. Stay or go, I don't mind, my heart is full by being surrounded by beautiful souls.

Cover Image Credit: Freeland Photography

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To The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything

I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

Cover Image Credit: Amy Aroune

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11 Dorm Essentials You'll Also NEED For Your Apartment Checklist

10. Whiteboard


The time has come for many college students to make their grand transition to a first apartment/house. However, thanks to a very tight budget, getting all those cool and new Pinterest-worthy decor is probably nearly impossible without breaking the bank. Who has the money for that when college loans are looming over every student's head? Here are 11 things you can totally take with you from your old dorm that will cross out some items on your apartment checklist:

1. Tapestry

If you had a tapestry anywhere in your dorm, take it with you! Hang it above a bed, couch, or use it as a rug! Cut it up, braid it, Pinterest it, and you're good to go.

2. Broom

Brooms aren't too expensive but why not save money where you can? Get some cute printed tape at a craft store and wrap it around the handle to make something that makes cleaning a little more fun.

3. Rubbermaid Containers

What once held school supplies can now hold wrapping paper, extra clothes, cleaning supplies... The options are endless.

4. Wall Art

If you have some you like, why not continue their legacy in your new space? Keep the color scheme going so you don't have to buy completely new stuff.

5. Shower Curtains

Your shower is bound to be bigger than the one you had in your dorm (thank God). To make your new bathroom look a little fancier, get a second shower curtain of the same pattern and have them open in the middle.

6. Shelves

Instead of using these for printers, books, etc, you can now put them up in your closet or bathroom and use them for shoes, towels, or whatever else.

7. Plants/Succulents

Instead of getting rid of them, keep your green thumb, get some new pots, and use them as coffee table/end table decor! Not only are they cute, but bring in a little color and overall make things a little brighter.

8. Books and Bookends

If you can't return or sell some of your old school books, consider keeping them and putting them in a bookshelf. They will make it look fuller, not to mention make you look more cultured. Then, keep your eyes peeled for some adorable bookends - cultured AND cute.

9. School Spirit Shirts

If you never plan on wearing your college spirit shirts ever again but DON'T want to get rid of them (sentimental value - I get it), send them into Project Repat that turns them into a quilt. Now you'll have something to remember your old college days without them taking up a ton of space with clutter.

10. Whiteboard

Don't ditch your whiteboard just yet! Instead of deadlines and assignments, use it to write down a shopping list, important phone numbers, or a new and inspiring quote every week.

11. Command Hooks

The sacred item that every college student NEEDS to have. There are awesome ways to reuse your command hooks: holding keys, dishtowels, jewelry, and so much more! You can even paint them to make them pop.

As you can see, there are so many amazing ways to transform your college dorm essentials into adorable must-haves that will transfer over to your next big move. Consider your apartment checklist completed!

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