My Educational Journey

I left high school, receiving my highest grades in subjects like Advanced English, Music and Society & Culture and decided I would "stick it to the man" by taking up a degree in Science, majoring in geology & meteorology. 

Well, that was all well and good except that I sucked at it. I found myself having to work 4 times as hard as my fellow students to receive Pass grades when they were receiving Distinctions. I did this for 2.5 years, failed many courses, when my parents finally intervened. 

'Betty, we don't feel like you're happy going down this path. We think you should study teaching.'

I thought, 'well that makes sense...Since I've always wanted to be a teacher and it's something I could be really passionate about.'

My first semester in education was all Distinctions and Credits and I found myself saying, 'why the hell didn't I do this 2.5 years ago...would've saved myself a lot of time, debt and stress'

In my first year of education I began volunteering at a local high school working with their Special Education unit. The students here, although in a mainstream school, were not integrated into mainstream classes. I found this troublesome. One of the Year 7 students I worked with, who had severe dyslexia, was really beat up about "being in the dumb class". After weeks with working with Sophie* she finally showed an interest in reading. She told me she wanted to read Twilight. I thought, "Great! That's wonderful you want to read. Let's get you started on Twilight". Sure, everyone knows Twilight is barely literature but it shouldn't matter when a young girl struggling with reading shows keen interest. The supervising teacher at the school told Sophie that she was not allowed to read any books that were not on the prescribed list. So she gave Sophie a book to read, and Sophie slouched in her chair, angry and defeated and said, "I don't want to read this stupid book! It's for kids and it's for boys!"

Sophie was a 13 year old girl, and most 13 year old girls don't like to be considered a "girl" but a young woman. The book was absurd. It was for kindergarten reading age, with large letters and only several words per page. I knew Sophie's abilities were beyond this as I'd gotten her to read from the dictionary and prove her abilities. The book was about a boy and his skateboard. Pretty much the opposite of what ANY 13 year old girl would want to read, let alone a girl who had some reading challenges. 

I left that school the next week, as I didn't want to work under the supervisor as I disagreed with her rules. On my last day I brought Sophie in a 2nd hand copy of Twilight, told her to put it in her bag and read it at home. 

Her eyes lit up and she thanked me. It was incredibly touching as Sophie has initially been difficult egg to crack. She was struggling with her dyslexia, but she also had an incredibly troubled home life. She was consistently, and understandably, surly and angry. Her teacher told her she had attitude problems. Something I also disagreed with. Sophie was doing her best in a world that had thrown hardships at her that no child should ever have to face. 

I hope she read Twilight, and I hope that small kind gesture impacted her in a positive way. 

It impacted me because from that moment I knew I wanted to become a special education teacher and that I wanted to make sure girls like Sophie would have a classroom environment that was comforting, safe, encouraging and dependable. 
BettyValentine BettyValentine
22-25, F
3 Responses Dec 4, 2012

Awesome story.

I wish you much success in your chosen field.

Very inspiring story and thank goodness you perserved in this work.

I think far too many people become disheartened and give up when they come across people (usually senior) in their profession who have no joy in themselves and they try to stop anyone enthusiastic making a difference.

That is awesome. Just another reason why you rock, Betty!

Thanks hun...You rock, too ;)