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What The Students Heard

7 Comments 18 November 2010

My time with the students was good.  I cried more than usual.  I think it was just one of those days, a day when the grief and fear of my life with MH just needed to come out in big ol’ crocodile tears.  As I read the letter from a parent, (from The Thinking Person’s Guide to Austim) to them I had to stop several times to keep from falling off the edge of crying into the gulf of sobbing.

I also got to hear from another parent here in our community.  She was funny and poignant as she told her story and also shared some discouraging comments that she has endured along the way.  The details of her story are different, but the experiences are similar and it is always good to know you are not alone.

The students sat wide-eyed and curious.  Some laughed, some could not hold back their own tears.  They asked questions about everything from special education funding and the disparity between systems to how to best handle specific situations in a classroom.

I asked my friend Dr. Spencer to get some specific feedback from them.  This is what I want to share with you…

  • I loved hearing Jorja’s story yesterday.  I think it’s important for people our age to hear from a parent of a child with a disability because we may have children with disabilities one day and it’s important that we learn what to expect.  Elizabeth Sullivan, Sophomore, I want to be an elementary school teacher.
  • I thought it was really courageous that you could stand in front of a group of people that you didn’t even know and tell them about your personal life as a mother of an exceptional child. It helped me out as a future educator to see it from your point of view. Thanks!  Autumn Frazier Sophomore, Music Education
  • It was interesting to be reminded of parents and families again after dealing so much with just the children/students. It opened my eyes to another aspect of the job that I had often forgotten about.  It also allowed me to prepare for the future in this profession and I left feeling better equipped to do the job that has always been my calling.  Amanda Cazort, Sophomore, Elementary School Teacher (inclusion classroom)
  • It was completely inspirational and heartwarming! Your story makes me excited to be in the classroom and help the students who need love and support!  Brittany Marie, Junior, Art Teacher 🙂
  • I just never realized how the entire family becomes affected and just how awful people can be to mothers in this situation. It really made me so sad to hear the stories of each mother but allowed me to see that life still moves on and that a family can and will experience joy.  Alexis Sweda (Collaborative Education Major, Junior)

All in all, it was about enlarging their understanding and giving them a new lens through which to view their future professions.  I am grateful to share my story, or at least a part of it.  It is our stories that connect us, remind us that we are all in this together.  I think the students were able to begin the journey of empathy for the families that they will eventually encounter.  That…is good, and I am so happy to be a part.

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7 Comments so far

  1. Funny I should happen across your blog today because I also do speaking to college students at our local college. My next gig is on Monday and this was great to remember so I can prepare! Keep at em, your story is important and inspirational 😉

    • Jorja says:

      marlowe, thanks so much for dropping by…i am always happy to have a comrade. i think that enlarging the minds of these students, giving them an opportunity to be educated as to what to look for and expect, can only help us ALL! go for it!

  2. Jorja- what a gift from the heart you gave those students. I am sure words many of them will carry for many years to come-
    xx

  3. Judy Helfand says:

    Jorja,
    I am thinking that special ed teachers should experience a “family” internship during their training. When I was in college working on my Social Work degree I needed to have so many hours of field work. So, I spent one quarter at Los Angeles County Hospital, two quarters at Los Angeles Juvenile Hall and two quarters at a Junior High School working as a group counselor. My thought is this: you can tell your story, they can meet MH, they can even work in the classroom with the children, but until they live in a family they will struggle to understand the full impact of “special”…the forever.
    An internship like this could be mutually beneficial. What do you think? I am a dreamer!

  4. Judy Helfand says:

    Jorja,
    Just stopping by today to wish you and your family a beautiful holiday. Take care and make memories.

    Judy


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“I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wondering awed about on a splintered wreck I've come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them...” Annie Dillard

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