While I am immensely glad to be retired, and I very much enjoy staying at home, I will say there were many perks in my special ed teaching job. Those almost always had to do with my students. I had a great bunch, overall. At the high school level, I received new students at the age of 13 or 14; because we were a self-contained classroom, I kept them all day, every day, until they turned 21. I got to know them and their parents pretty well.
One student in particular became close to my heart. That was Maureen. Maureen and I simply liked each other. We were kindred spirits. Her dad was the ROTC teacher at my school. Maureen had really cool parents – both of them, and a really cool family.
Each morning in our classroom the students would come in from the buses and hang up their stuff in their individual cubbies. This area was a new addition, and I had designed it so that each student had a coat hook, and a small area above the hook to put their books or other belongings. The students had supervised free time before the bell rang.
Promptly at 8 a.m. the bell rang, and everyone was herded over to sit at the tables in the calendar area. Everyone was expected to participate in calendar, when we went over what day is today, what happened yesterday, what today’s schedule would look like, counting, colors, patterns, etc.
One morning I had started on calendar, and I noticed that my aide, Gloria, was looking a little harassed. She came over to the other side of the bookcase between the calendar area and the coat area and flagged my attention. I went over, and she explained that she couldn’t get Maureen away from her cubby. I gave an inquiring look, and Gloria simply pointed. I peeked around the bookcase and beheld Maureen, la plus pathétique.
I don’t know if it was the parent in me, or the teacher, but I immediately and silently started to laugh. Not one to let a good situation slip away, I grabbed the camera and took the shot.
Gloria explained that a bus driver had told her that one of the other kids on the bus had screamed all the way to school, and Maureen hadn’t taken it well. Mind you, school bus rides are often longer than an hour. I had Gloria take over the calendar while I ministered to Maureen.
I went over and gave Maureen a hug. It didn’t seem to help much. I asked her if she needed a hug from her dad. She looked hopefully at me. I took Maureen to my office area within the classroom, and talked to her about the picture I had just taken of her. Together, we decided on some words to go with it, and I printed out the picture with the caption: “Dear Dad. I’m having a no-good, very bad day, and I need a hug.”
I gave the picture to Maureen, and together we walked down a few hallways to her dad’s classroom. He came to the door when he saw us, and we explained what had happened. Maureen got her hug, Dad kept the picture, and the rest of Maureen’s day was much better.
I e-mailed that picture to a fellow teacher who knows Maureen. She got quite a kick out of it. She printed the picture to put by her desk; her caption was, “Some days are just like that!”