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During that time, I came to the decision that I wanted to impact the lives of children directly.

U.S. Department of Education

My student teaching experiences were at an urban Middle School in Pittsburgh, where I fell in love with my students and the job of teaching. My training as a teacher provided me an opportunity to relocate across the country and have a job that brings great personal and professional satisfaction. I became a special education teacher initially because I wanted to make a difference.

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I wanted to help students in struggling communities who had learning hurdles overcome those barriers and be successful in the classroom. The more I pour into them, the better prepared they are for the next challenges they will face in life. One single educator can impact so many lives. I teach because I have been blessed to have had so many influential people pour excellence into my cup and I feel the responsibility to do the same for the next generation. My hope is that I can inspire a few to want to keep it going and give back when they have the opportunity to do so.

Why I became a teacher: to help children discover their inner talents

During middle school service learning, I volunteered at a childcare center that provided service to families typically turned away from centers due to money or the needs of their children. This adoration, coupled with my passion for social equality, drove my decision to educate students with special needs.

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  • Watching students overcome the barriers presented by their exceptionalities is my daily affirmation. Every day, I witness exceptional students strive to take ownership of their lives and their education in the face of perceived limitations and a lack of societal awareness. This charge serves as my humbling, call-to-action each day and is the reason why I teach.

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    My interest in education came from a deep appreciation of learning and the opportunities that education provides individuals. It also comes from the realization that not all students are provided with equitable access to these opportunities. As I started to volunteer more in public school systems through local Pittsburgh organizations, I realized that these barriers to quality education, though complex and often intimidating, are not insurmountable. I wanted to do something about those barriers, and felt that teaching was a career in which I could have a tangible impact, connecting students to education so that they could become the best versions of themselves.

    My favorite aspect of my job is when I can celebrate the varied successes of my students, whether that be their acing a challenging math test, learning how to ask for help, finding deeper meaning in Shakespeare, or earning Hot Cheetos as part of a behavior plan. I find that taking time to appreciate both the large and small gains creates a dynamic atmosphere where learning is exciting for students, and I look forward to being a part of that atmosphere every day.

    There are many reasons why I teach but the most honest response is, to have the ability to improve the future of society. Children today have the ability to make the world a better place, as they become functioning citizens in society. I know that I have been given a very important role in my life and can ultimately improve the quality of life for not only the children I teach, but also for members of society.

    As a Special Education teacher in a high poverty area in the South Bronx, I truly understand the struggles that families face each and every day.

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    I am given the responsibility to alleviate some of the stresses by providing quality special education services to those in need. Why do I teach? That is a question I am often asked, especially when people find out that I teach students with autism spectrum disorders. It is because every child has the right to learn. I love reaching the kids that nobody else can reach and seeing them become positive members of the school community. That is why I teach, students need to know that there is someone there for them no matter what, to advocate for those without a voice, support them when they feel as though no one else can, and to love them unconditionally.

    I teach for my students, to make their world a better place, even if it is just for the school day. In second grade I had big goals to go to Harvard to become a dolphin trainer and an Olympic swimmer. Now, I work on a military base where students are constantly moving from base to base and have hectic lives. I love when each student walks in and sees me and my smile and can relax, feel comfortable, and have a stable environment.

    It is an amazing feeling when they smile and tell me about their future goals and new adventures. I love being their biggest cheerleader and will always help them achieve whatever goal they set, even if it is becoming valedictorian of Harvard! Every day I want to give my kids what they need in order to thrive and if I do my job—then they can do theirs.

    Educating our future creates sustainability and ensures that values that matter like respect and having empathy are carried on. I feel extremely fortunate that so many parents share their most precious gifts with me, and it is my hope that I can send them out into this world motivated to not only gain educational success but also to understand that nice matters. Smith School Syracuse, NY.

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    Margaret Brewer-LaPorta. Posted by Shirin Felfelti. Posted by Margaret Brewer-LaPorta. Seth Van Gaasbeek. Chelsea Iobst. Posted by Geoffrey Rhodes. Shopping Cart. Sharon Draper's new novel is the story of Melody, a 10 year old girl with Cerebral Palsy so severe that she can neither speak nor move independently. Trapped inside Melody's uncooperative body is a brilliant mind with a cutting wit. Melody is relegated to a classroom of special needs kids because she can't communicate what is going on in her head.

    Her world suddenly opens up when she gets a computer with a voice program that allows her to speak for the first time. Unfortunately, the rest of the school is not ready to accept Melody. I was silently cheering for Melody while I read this book as I sat at my kitchen table. The conversations she has with her parents and caregivers about being different are gut-wrenching. Melody knows exactly how she is perceived by other kids and adults, including teachers.

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    The conversations between Melody's parents as they contemplate the birth of their second child moved me to tears. This is more than a book about a girl with special needs. It holds up a mirror for all of us to see how we react to people with disabilities that make us uncomfortable. I encourage everyone to read this. Although she is unable to walk, talk, or feed or care for herself, she can read, think, and feel.

    A brilliant person is trapped inside her body, determined to make her mark in the world in spite of her physical limitations. Draper knows of what she writes; her daughter, Wendy, has cerebral palsy, too. And although Melody is not Wendy, the authenticity of the story is obvious.

    Told in Melody's voice, this highly readable, compelling novel quickly establishes her determination and intelligence and the almost insurmountable challenges she faces. It also reveals her parents' and caretakers' courage in insisting that Melody be treated as the smart, perceptive child she is, and their perceptiveness in understanding how to help her, encourage her, and discourage self-pity from others. Thoughtless teachers, cruel classmates, Melody's unattractive clothes "Mom seemed to be choosing them by how easy they'd be to get on me" , and bathroom issues threaten her spirit, yet the brave Melody shines through.

    Uplifting and upsetting, this is a book that defies age categorization, an easy enough read for upper-elementary students yet also a story that will enlighten and resonate with teens and adults. Similar to yet the antithesis of Terry Trueman's Stuck in Neutral , this moving novel will make activists of us all. She is a brilliant fifth grader trapped in an uncontrollable body.

    Her world is enhanced by insight and intellect, but gypped by physical limitations and misunderstandings. She will never sing or dance, talk on the phone, or whisper secrets to her friends. She's not complaining, though; she's planning and fighting the odds. In her court are family, good neighbors, and an attentive student teacher. Pitted against her is the "normal" world: schools with limited resources, cliquish girls, superficial assumptions, and her own disability. Melody's life is tragically complicated. She is mainly placed in the special-ed classroom where education means being babysat in a room with replayed cartoons and nursery tunes.

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    Her supportive family sets her up with a computer. She learns the strength of thumbs as she taps on a special keyboard that finally lets her "talk. Then something happens that causes her to miss the finals, and she is devastated by her classmates' actions. Kids will benefit from being introduced to Melody and her gutsy, candid, and compelling story. It speaks volumes and reveals the quiet strength and fortitude it takes to overcome disabilities and the misconceptions that go with them. That is narrator Melody Brooks's plight: "By the time I was two, all my memories had words, and all my words had meanings.

    But only in my head," she writes. I am almost eleven years old. Sharon Draper Copper Sun; Forged by Fire , who herself has a child with cerebral palsy--though she explicitly states that this is not her daughter's story--inhabits the brilliant, frustrated mind and unresponsive body of this child.

    This is the kind of book--like Terry Trueman's Stuck in Neutral or Harriet McBryde Johnson's Accidents of Nature--that makes readers aware of their own biases, and of what a great disservice those biases do to human beings whose outer trappings belie an extraordinary intelligence within. Draper's book is distinctive for the way she traces Melody's journey and her attempts to communicate from as far back as she can remember.

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    • In often poetic language, Melody describes how early on she "began to recognize noises and smells and tastes. The whump and whoosh of the furnace coming alive each morning. The tangy odor of heated dust as the house warmed up. One chapter discusses obstacles from the medical community. At age five, Mrs. Brooks takes Melody to a doctor who says that Melody is "severely brain-damaged and profoundly retarded.

      Brooks defends Melody's intelligence to him "She laughs at jokes A turning point occurs during one of Melody's daily after-school stays with next-door neighbor Mrs. Violet Valencia "Mrs. V" : she and six-year-old Melody happen upon a documentary about Stephen Hawking. Talk," Melody answers, by repeatedly pointing at the word on her communication board. This begins Melody's quest to find the tools to express herself--first with word cards she makes with Mrs. V, then with phrases and, finally, with an electronic Medi-Talker.