Sunday, January 18, 2009

Full Circle

7th grade was my year of absolute hell. My history teacher encouraged kids in the class to take my things and throw them around the room. It was the year that I got massively sick down the front of me as I was leaving for the bus on a cold day - with very little warning. It was the year that I just could not get things together and when a math teacher asked the class who was unhappy with themselves I raised my hand. He then looked at me and said - You will commit suicide one day.

Yes, I lived in a charming area.

Fast forward to 8th grade.

The storm clouds parted. I ended up in one of the lowest functioning history classes and ended up with a delightful teacher Mr. Gornicki who could not for the life of him figure out why I was in his class. I had a ball.

One day he asked me what I wanted to do with my life. I replied - Teach special needs children.
The poor man was ecstatic. His niece was autistic and that was a big part of his life. I had never heard of autism before. I only knew a couple of mentally challenged kids on the bus who had parents that made them wear awful clothes and one of the girls was teased by a couple of boys at school. It was irritating and I knew that their lives could be better if someone only gave a damn.

Forward to college. I started to take education classes but a crappy remark from a relative made me rethink my major. I took a wonderful Biology class at a junior college in California and when I transferred to UGA decided to major in entomology and get an agriculture degree. I loved the classes for the degree. Soils, grasses, horticulture. All were interesting to me and as my family comes from heavy agriculture roots I felt an understanding with the teachers and classmates.

But I fell in love with someone who is not agriculture oriented. After college I needed a job immediately to save for the wedding, the house etc. When the kids came I stayed home and when they entered preschool and then school I discovered that I was a great volunteer in the classroom. Then I became a preschool teacher and over the years found out that I was even better with children with issues. A colleague looked at me the other day and said - I want to send so and so over to your class next year if possible. With that child's issues I think that your personality and style is best.

This morning I realized that I am doing what I told Mr. Gornicki I would be doing. Special needs is part of what I do. As I don't know where he is and cannot remember his first name I have no chance of reconnecting.

But if I could I'd thank him profusely for that one good year and let him know that I have come full circle.


Debra said...

Oh, I loved this post! It's amazing how often children do know what they want to be 'when they grow up.' I wanted to be a homemaker and a writer and that's exactly what I am. :)

I wanted to add--you may be able to reconnect with your teacher at Students get in touch with each other there all the time and often teachers leave their own info. there, as well. You can see who's signed up without paying anything, but to reconnect with others you'll have to pay a small amount. I believe you can just sign up for one month and that's plenty of time to contact everyone from your past. They once gave me a free two-week membership and that was fun.

Thanks again for this post. Blessings, Debra

The Three Little Bears said...

I really loved this post too. Thank you so much for sharing this. It made my day. :)

Tins and Treasures said...

This is quite the story. Some people should just not be teachers...and then there are those that are meant to be!
Jodi, I have chosen you to receive an award. Please stop by my blog to pick it up! Natalie

Jane said...

Amazing story! I never wanted to be a teacher. But, many of the things I did want to be are aspects of teaching. For me that bad year was fifth grade. When I got a job teaching fifth grade (my first position in LA)I had a lot of anxiety about being in 5th again. They haven't changed much, but I had a lot more control over the situation this time.

east village idiot said...

Life is interesting isn't it. It's amazing what influences us and what hurts us.

As someone who has read your blog for years, I am amazed at how intellectually versatile, confident and positive you are.

I can only imagine the incredible impact you make on the lives of so many children. Thank you for sharing this post. I think you're cool and a constant source of inspiration to keep exploring the world and to develop interests that bring you happiness.

Jodi Ohl said...

How amazing it is that the little moments in our childhood can shed light on what it is we are meant to do as adults. It's all the in between that gets in the way but nevertheless shapes us into what we were born to do.