by Holly Walker
Holly Walker is the AIC at Stuart Academy. She has worked for 20 years within a school building and hasn’t regretted a single day. Follow her on Twitter @HollyWalke1.
As a senior in high school, I was paired with an ECE class. I had an instant connection with Nick, a young man with autism. Our peer chemistry was undeniable. He and I jived as we worked through his daily tasks. I met his father and developed a new friendship.
Working with Nick provided me with a brand new perspective. I lived, like most of us, in my own bubble, hanging out with people like myself until I walked into the building where Nick and other students like him had class. Within minutes, I knew I wanted to become part of this world. Their world was full of happiness and innocence like I had never witnessed before. Students were happy just being, and I was drawn to it. It was special in those classrooms because gifts went beyond their academic ability. Their gifts were immeasurable in the world of GPAs, but each student was unique and wonderful. They had gifts like bringing joy to others, finding happiness in small things, and willingness to work hard to accomplish even the simplest of tasks. They did not measure their success against the world, they were pleased to be a part and that was enough.
I learned that students like Nick are a gift to all of us who don’t face intellectual or physical challenges. Those students were placed on Earth to show us what truly matters. Through my career which has spanned from the classroom to a principalship, Nick, and those like him, have shown me my “why.” I teach to not only impact my students, but also so that they can impact me. They make me a better educator, but more importantly, a better human.
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