An Advocates View on Teachers

An Advocates View on Teachers
-Heather Brasfield

A teacher is not just a teacher.  A teacher is a mother, father, friend, advocate, mentor, and a hero.  A teacher ensures that the students grow and develop into young adults who are prepared to face the world and give it what they have to offer.  A teacher believes in the students and will do what is necessary so that the students believe in themselves.  A teacher goes beyond the call of duty and thinks outside the box.  Am I teacher?

        I started my way down the path to Special Education with inspirational thoughts of how I was going to make a difference in the life of a child.  I wanted to delve deep into the textbooks and emerge soaked in knowledge of individuals with disabilities.  I wanted to show the world that these individuals have so much to offer if you are willing to give them an opportunity to succeed.  I work in a field where politically correct terms are thrown around like ping pong balls dropped in a bucket so when I say the children are special, I mean it.  Individuals with disabilities are very special just as an individual without a disability is special.  Each child, regardless of what classification they fall into, is special.  I wanted to be special to them.

        Every student possesses similar attributes in different ways.  They are individuals and need to be recognized as such.  Each child’s personality encompasses everything they are and everything they will become.  As a teacher, it is our job to assess these children, learn who they are, and how we can improve their positive qualities and limit the negative.  If a child is told something enough, they eventually will believe it-good or bad.  On average, teachers spend approximately 35-40 hours per week with a student in their younger years and approximately 5-10 hours per week as the student progresses into high school.  Therefore, the teacher is comparably responsible for the child’s success and growing up.

Am I a teacher?  

After some serious contemplation, I would have to say yes but not in the fashion one would think.  I work at an agency that advocates on behalf of individuals with disabilities and I have never felt so at home.  I have a natural ability to assist those in need and am in a position to ensure that the organization remains open to continue that assistance.  Although teaching special education would be enormously satisfying, I realize that I have been called to Living Independently Now Center (LINC) to fulfill a purpose yet discovered.

I have ultimately chosen to be an advocate and stand beside those who are still overcoming adversity.  The Americans with Disabilities Act was signed in on July 26, 1990 and we still facing an uninformed society that does not understand the capabilities of individuals with disabilities.  Our culture is a melting pot of ethnicities, religions, and beliefs but we are still waging a battle that started in 1960’s alongside the civil rights movement.

 The path to independence starts with the parents and continues into the school system and of course, finishes as an adult.  I want to be there every step of the way, not just during their adolescence.  I want to advocate on a much bigger scale and pave the future for individuals with disabilities

Teachers are not just teachers.  They do not just educate on facts and figures, they educate on life skills and growing.  I believe there is a teacher in all of us although many will never stand in a classroom.  We do it through who we are as a person and what we do when we think no one is watching.  I may never stand before a class full of children and shower them with my intellect, but I will stand before a world full of children and shower them with the ability to rise above their disabilities and be an individual.  In a way, I will be teaching but on a much greater scale.  I will be teaching a society about disabilities and teaching individuals with disabilities to live independently and to have a voice. Am I teacher?  Yes, yes I am.

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