coming full circle at nautilus teachings

the year is 1985
i am a student teacher
senior in college
my mother is fighting leukemia
my father is in denial
of this fact…
it is winter
bitter cold on most days
the wind always whipping
biting my cheeks
the heater in my car
is cranked on high
yet i still shiver
the sun is warm
beaming through my window
i am on my way to
my first day of
of a month long
student teaching assignment
in special education…
at the time it was required
that all classroom teachers
also be a visiting teacher
with the special needs kids.
we had no training at all
i do not even remember
taking a class
to teach me the basics.
nevertheless
it was part of my requirement
to graduate with my
bs in elementary education
and art.
i loved my art training
in the classroom.
i had the most magnificent woman
to show me the skill of
not just managing an elementary art room
but how to engage all the kids
helping them to learn
simple techniques
producing amazing small
pieces of art with minimal supplies
they could take home
guaranteeing a smile across the lips
of all parents, grandparents and siblings!
my classroom training took place
with third graders.
again, another wonderful and gifted teacher.
she gave me the freedom to teach
every subject creatively
she understood i could and would
incorporate art into every course
in fact,
i found it to so inspirational
i considered looking for a classroom position
if an art room vacancy did not pop up…
as may approached and i entered
my final teaching assignment,
a small 6 child, 5th grade classroom
with just one teacher,
i knew my assignment
and title was helper…
i was to do whatever the
teacher asked me to do
with a smile…


we are no more than 10 minutes
into the start of the day
when she pulls me aside and says,
“i’m going to run to the bathroom,
can you watch them for a few minutes,
they should all be fine
as they are already at their stations…”
she then pops open the door
and disappears.
i
am
terrified.
but,
i smile,
slowly walk around
the room watching the kids
working on their assigned activities
i take a breath and think
“i got this…”
i am watching the minute hand
tick, tick, ticking away
2 minutes have passed
then 5
we are almost to 10 minutes
when
WHAM!
a young man
literally
pins my to thin,
only 115lb
no tits
no ass
self
against the wall…
i don’t know if he’s trying
to kiss me
hit me or
kill me
all i know is i am ready
to wet my pants.
the teacher returns
pulls him off of me
and says,
“Oh, he likes you…”
she then smiles
removes his hands from
my shoulders
and diverts his attention.
she then pulls me aside
and whispers,
“what did you do?
why did he pin you?
he’s not usually that aggressive…”
i am near tears
cannot speak
when a male teacher enters
the room and sees us chatting.
“hey,” he says to me
“it’s ok. they don’t teach you anything
in college…”
he smiles,
i relax
stand up and say,
“ya know, you’re right
and i do not belong here…”


i walked out the door
and vowed i would
never
ever
teach
or expose myself
to
children
with special needs…
i talked to my advisors
they let me get by with a research paper
on the subject
i graduated and
took a job at an advertising company
doing voice overs
and secretarial work.
i had no idea what i would do with my life
but i knew one thing
it was not in the classroom
but it must have to do with art…
after all art was my love
my soul
my
everything…
so, when this opportunity came to me,
working this,
my 55th year
with the special needs kids
i talked to d
about my fears
and he said,
“what do you want to do blondie?”
i replied,
“i want to do it, but i am scared…”
he just smiled that ole
dr. d smile
wrapped me in a huge hug
and said,
“i’ve got your back
i believe in you…
time to challenge your fears
and chase your dreams…”
he was so, so, so right.
these kids stole my heart
from day one
and i feel extremely blessed
to have been given this opportunity
to spread color and smiles
all over brevard with art,
with the kids who face challenges
every day…
today,
two autistic young men
were impatient
screaming at me
i waited for them to finish
then i smiled
refocused them
and you know what they did?
immediately they both said,
“i’m sorry i was mean…”
this just melted my heart
and of course this scenario
repeated itself
a few more times
during our hour together-
this is just one of so many
stories i could tell you
that happen to me every day,
and every time
i just smile
look up to God
and pray,
“thank you, for this blessing, Lord,
i can do all things through Christ
who strengthens me…” Philippians 4:13