As an intervention specialist and school counselor I’m licensed to work with students K-12. A majority of my teaching experience has been teaching special education at the elementary level. These experiences have been in rural districts, suburban districts, and a district with a very high socio-economic status. I was a school counselor at an urban high school for three years, and taught multi-handicapped students at the high school level as well. I’m currently a high school intervention specialist in a suburban district with great diversity and SES.
What I have found through these experiences is one simple thing. No matter where you are, all kids are same.
I know that may seem odd to some. How are seven year olds like 17 year olds? How are inner city kids like their rural counterparts? Easy. They all have a need to feel wanted, important, valued. They want to be special. The rule followers or those who you have to dig just a little deeper each day to find that “special” need to feel important.
For the last eight years I worked at an elementary school. I had the same student for five years. FIVE years. I took time, but I grew to adore this student and understood her special needs. Her need for love and encouragement. Her need for breakfast and clothes and school supplies. Her need for hugs and quiet lunches some days. And now she’s in another school. A simple call from her the other day literally brought me to tears because she said “Guess what we’re doing in school. Did you hear about….” Then… “I miss you ”.
Now, I’m at the high school and a student shares that he will be turning 16 the next day. When I ask him how he will celebrate he responds with a shrug “it’s no big deal”. SIXTEEN! Sixteen is a big deal. I go buy donuts. We celebrate his sixteen years. A few days later he stops by my office and said “thanks for those donuts. Nobody has done that before”.
It’s little things. Kids want to know you care. It’s going to a football game, a little league soccer game, a choir performance or even asking about their anime drawings. Seven or 17; kids are kids.