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Before beginning this project I was a little skeptical of how the outcome would be. When I began majoring in Elementary Education I debated minoring in Special Education, although after taking EEX2090 it was a wake up call for me. I realized I needed to understand disabilities before doing so because it was hard for me to try helping the students and feeling like I was not getting through. Therefore, I was hoping this time I would make a difference in the life of a child/children.
I am an Education major. I was born and raised in Tampa, FL. My mother is a teacher and she is the reason I have found a love for teaching children. I love sports and am a very optimistic and patient person. I am extremely social and frequently laugh at my own jokes.
I visited Riverside Elementary School about 1-2 times a week for 6 weeks. I worked with a first grade class. The class had students with ADHD, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, ADD, and more. I helped with reading to the students, tutoring one on one, and randomly teaching lessons to the class.
I have helped out at the New Image Youth Center prior to this class therefore I was familiar with the children and setting. I have tutored students, helped them with their homework, and played outside with them. Although, our service project did not involve any of those activities.
I am a member of the organization Zeta Tau Alpha. We do many service events throughout the semester collecting clothes, participating in philanthropy events ( benefiting Susan G Komen, the Ronald McDonald Foundation, and many more), and other local projects.
When I joined this class and saw I needed to have a project I thought why not involve my chapter. We organized an event at the youth center helping the under privileged children. We had members pick a child from the youth center and either bring toys or clothes to the house.
All members had to purchase something or deliver the items to the youth center. We picked a day with Shanta and went to deliver all of the children gifts. Each gift had the child’s name on it.
The different Service Learning experiences I did touched me in a great way. Working with under privileged children and also helping out in a classroom of students with disabilities really opened my eyes to how much people and myself take for granted. It hit me how the little things in life to these children mean the most. Just sitting talking to the child could make their day. When I would pull a child aside to tutor them or just give them an encouraging word it meant so much to them. When we brought small gifts to the children they were so grateful and some just received lip-gloss or a book.
Before this class I had never worked in a classroom of students with disabilities. It was eye opening and made me feel like a better person. One event I will never forget was one day when I arrived to help out in the classroom, when I opened the door a girl I worked closely with named Daija was hunched down on the carpet with a puddle forming under her. Daija has cerebral palsy and sometimes could not control her bladder. All of the children gathered around to laugh at her. Daija was not fully emotionally or socially at the age she should be, so she did not know how to react to the situation or the students.
Watching this broke my heart and made me realize that I want to be a teacher that has to help students like Daija. No student should be bullied or made fun of, especially not someone who can not defend themselves because of a disability. Every student is special because of who they are.
I honestly gained so much from this learning experience that has helped me grow as a person and I feel everyone should have to experience something like this in their lifetime.