They Changed my Life
A Child I met and adopted
The summer before I was to begin college, I met with friends each day and watched the baseball games on T.V. at a local gas station. One day,as we all gathered around the set, a huge explosion rocked the station and intense heat was felt and overwhelmed the room in which we sat. Suddenly two of the workers who were our friends and about our same ages burst into the room with their clothes on fire. The two boys kept on running right through the building screaming for us to help them. My good friend and I chased after the two boys and I managed to stop one in the parking lot. I took off my shirt and tried to smother out the flames that had engulfed his entire body. My buddy managed to tackle the other boy and had him roll over and over trying to put out the fire. As we stood over our friends and watched helplessly as firemen arrived, somehow we knew in our hearts that the young men laying there with skin barely hanging on to their body, were not going to make it. Both boys died on the way to the hospital that day. We were left in a state of shock and dismay. We had lost our friends to a careless mistake in which they used gasoline in order to clean the grease racks, against the owners orders.They both had dates and wanted to get through with their chores earlier. This accident had a great effect on me and I realized that I must do something to help make amends. I decided to devote my life in helping kids in need with special problems in school. With a lot of effort on my part, I managed to complete my training in college and took on my first classes at school. Before I could begin teaching kids with special needs I had to change my major. The kids that helped me decide this I met in my first year of teaching in a junior high school.
Little Bobby was small for his age and I took him under my wing. One day he came to school with a very badly burned hand. He told me that he had burned it while cooking bacon for his little brother. The burn looked dangerously infected and because his mother was unable to get to the school, I volunteered after checking with the guidance counselor, so that I could take the boy to a local clinic. The doctor there told my counselor that if I had not brought the boy when I had he would have most assuredly lost his hand. The infection had gone that far and was endangering his life. Later I met Julian who was a big behavior problem. I learned later that he had the dreaded disease of Sickle Cell Anemia and that he probably would not live to be an adult. I took Julian under my wing and gave him a lot of special attention. I took him out to a local burger place and bought him special shoes. When I took him to the shoe store, I gave him his choice in which shoes to pick. He chose boots and after that, the boy wore his boots to school each day. Then there was Eugene. He was burned on one side of his face and this caused him much insecurity and embarrassment at his school. I tried to counsel with him and referred him to guidance as well. With my help the boy seemed to overcome his shyness and come out of his "shell" as the counselor told me. I met several kids needing special care that first year and was determined to work on my new degree in the field of Special Education. I learned that I could earn a masters degree by attending in evening classes and in the Summer months. The following year I met many kids with special needs and became very close to each. They appreciated me and let me know every day. Their smiling faces made my job much easier, even though it was quite a challenge. I ran into road blocks and faced an uphill battle each day with principals, other teachers and parents. Over time, things began to settle down and I was better able to cope with my challenges.
One child that I will never forget was little Elmer. He was confined to a wheel chair and as I greeted him each day he gave me that wonderful smile, as I pushed him up the ramp into our classroom. Elmer was always inquisitive and cheerful, no mater what. He became attached to me and I was sorry to see his mother take him out of public school the following year. It was decided that he would be best placed in a center for kids with severe mobility problems The officials were fearful that being around other kids might endanger him and it was best to be safe. I had a lot of misgivings about the decision, but I could do nothing about his placement.
Later after I moved to a new school I got permission to begin a scout troop and the large number of boys in my class would be greatly benefited with this new troop. The principal at the school gave me her blessings and the scout troop was a big hit for more than two years. I later taught in high school several years and met many kids who had a positive influence on my life. It gave me satisfaction in my chosen field and I honestly looked forward to every day at my school.
I was diagnosed with a brain tumor one weekend and this brought my teaching career to a sudden halt. Over time, I later was able to overcome my debilitating condition after surgery. I later tried to teach in another state for a few years, but time and the strain of medical problems forced me to retire from teaching. I will never forget the smiling faces of all of my students who I had helped all of those twenty-five years in the classroom. It gave me a wonderful feeling of self worth and I really felt that those kids had taught me a lot, as well. I think back to the day I was a witness to two friends who gave up their lives on that rough pavement in the parking lot, and I know in my heart, that I would have made them proud. I felt truly blessed to be able to be a part of a lot of kid's lives.