That's When I Knew

The “different” boy in class sat behind me on the bus.

He’d smirk at me as I walked up the stairs and found my seat against the window that was frosted over. He’d pass notes up to me through the crevasse between the wall and the seat on colorful construction paper. One read “Will you go out with me?” Others would just have happy pictures with hearts and smiley faces. My personal favorite was several pieces of yellow paper taped together to form the letter “H” and flipped to form an “I.”

That’s when I knew.

Children were everywhere; they ran around wearing smiles but not shoes and were intrigued by my blonde hair and blue eyes. In a makeshift hospital, I recall standing next to my mom in the pediatric section of the building. She wore shirts with happy quotes that needed to be translated to patients. There was a boy, three or four years old at the time, who sat in the corner examining my every move. His permanent grin was contagious, unlike the Down Syndrome he had.

That’s when I knew.

I saw all of the potential in the world in the heart of a girl with a wheelchair. She showed me true friendship, made me laugh, succeeded academically and expressed the most beautifully contagious confidence. In just one week towards the end of summer, I knew I found someone special that would be one of my friends forever.

That’s when I knew.

I sat in a high school without a special education program and felt empty. I attempted every day to find some breath of fresh air or someone that wasn’t exactly like everyone else. I felt like a part of me was missing from my previous school and recognized that those who were not exposed to these different types of people were ignorant in passing judgment of others.

That’s when I knew.

I sat in my chemistry class for science majors during my first semester of college. I stared at the board uninterested. The thought of becoming a doctor and making good money was the only thing keeping me in the classroom. We were balancing chemical reactions when I had an epiphany and started crying in front of my entire recitation.

That’s when I changed my major.

I walked into a middle school for my first day of shadowing. I met a plethora of students who didn’t know my name but were willing to tell me about their favorite television shows and what time they went to bed at night. Over the course of the semester, they began to open up to me and tell me about their middle school crushes and allowed me to help them with their struggles in the classroom. I learned about accommodations and that just because someone learns differently does not mean they learn incorrectly. I fell in love with waking up at 6:00 a.m. to go see my students.

That’s when I knew I was meant to be a special education teacher.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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