DESOTO—During the month of December, many are focused on the joy and cheer of the holidays and the hope and excitement of the new year. While those sentiments are absolutely true for the month of December, this month also observes Special Education Day and International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
In the summer months, growing up, I spent most of my time at my grandmother’s house. While there, I spent a lot of time with my late Aunt DeVera who was a special education aide serving in a life skills educational unit and, like many kids hanging around the home of a family member in the summer, I would accompany her to work some days.
It was during these times, that I was, first, exposed to the idea of how to work and accept everyone for who they are. This early exposure to people with disabilities taught me an awareness of, not only the special nature of those called to work in these settings, but also of the character, temperament, sensitivity and patience of such educators.
It taught me an awareness of the specialized education and skills of educators like my Aunt DeVera who diligently trained and learned the tools and insights needed to serve in such a capacity.
An extension of this realization was made even more personal when a family member was born with Hydrocephalus– water on the brain. She spent many months in the intensive care unit following her birth, undergoing more than ten surgeries. Doctors told us that if she made it past the age of two, she would never be able to talk or walk. Years later, my cousin is a walking, talking 22-year-old college student studying music production.
In these experiences, both in the more personal space of my family and while shadowing my aunt as a child in the educational setting, even now as an professional educator myself, I have learned to never assume anyone’s level of capability, to never count anyone out of anything, that none of us regardless of our abilities, our tools, or our goals, can do whatever we want to do in life.
I am a witness to the impact that a special education program can have on a student and how such services can change the future trajectory of a student’s life. The work of a special education teacher never goes unnoticed. They are the ones who give students the foundation and tools to excel by fostering independence and providing the necessary supports to ensure success.
And while the work of a special education teacher is priceless, the leadership and strategy of administrators like DeSoto ISD’s Dr. Akewta Hickman, ensures consistency and accountability in serving students under the umbrella of special education services. When I see the investment and efforts of special education educators in DeSoto ISD and their unwavering commitment to the students they serve, it makes me proud to be an Eagle.
So, while a celebration of the holidays is a necessary tradition this time of year, ensure that you take a moment to celebrate a special education teacher, Special Education Day and the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
-Tiffany Clark, DeSoto ISD Board Secretary, Place 4