I’ve worked as a para-educator for 10 years or so. I’ve worked in public education with special needs children, children with behavior issues and inner-city children whose way of life wasn’t easy. Now, I’ve worked at a private, not-for-profit International American school in the Middle East. Most students I supported are expat children who usually speak more than one language, are motivated to learn, and have already in their young lives lived in more than one country. These worldly children have a unique understanding of what inclusion means, because at ASD there are students from over 80 countries.
These children have a wisdom that perhaps they don’t even realize they have because their way of life is so normal to them with exposure to so many different cultures and languages.
During my time at ASD, I supported Grade 4 students with math and literacy. This is such a beautiful age as the kids still have that childhood innocence, some still have those cute, chubby cheeks!
This young girl, Aljori AL-Kuwari, is whose hug broke the protective barrier I had around my heart this day. The tears started and were then hard to stop as I said my goodbyes. I tutored Aljori through Grade 4 and Grade 5. She had become a part of my life in Qatar. This young Qatari girl is quite possibly the sweetest girl I know. Her heart leads the way with kindness, respect and compassion. She works hard in whatever she does – be it math, writing, gymnastics, hockey as well as her part in the upcoming musical Pinocchio!!! Love you Aljori!!! ❤ ❤ ❤
I made my rounds….
Then I made sure I went to the cafeteria during Grade 4 lunch to say goodbye!!! Part of my daily supervision duties during recess and lunch time was the cafeteria during Grade 4 lunch. This was no easy task of keeping close to 180 students in their seats! Somehow I managed to do it, and get their respect too…..well not every day – but most!!
Riley, the Associate Vice Principal was in the cafeteria when I entered. As the kids swarmed me to say goodbye, I handed him my camera to take pictures!! I was SO overwhelmed by their affection for me!!! My heart overflowed with love and joy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The kids eventually settled back to their seats and I made my rounds to say goodbye…
Ali made his way over from the Grade 5 side of the cafeteria to say goodbye! I tutored Ali and I think I spent more time laughing with him than re-teaching because Ali is one of the funniest kids I have ever met!!!!! I’m gonna miss you Ali!!!
Saif, from the Grade 5, came over to give me a hug and say goodbye. I didn’t get a picture because his hug was brief, meaningful and shocking!! Shocking because this young guy was a handful in Grade 4! I spent more time banging my head against a wall with him than laughing!!! With Saif’s hug, I didn’t think my heart could expand anymore with happiness!!!
But, it was time to go…..
The cafeteria left me speechless and I just didn’t have it in me to say another goodbye…..
I’m a better person because of ASD. Period.
Thank you ASD…….
Love, Stephanie, xoxo