While I was in school I had positive and negative experiences. It started when I was in elementary school and that was a positive experience. I had a great teacher, Ms. Neila Brown. One of the positive aspects was when she created different stations where we rotated through. It engaged us by doing a variety of different subjects. It also helped because we didn’t have to sit for hours on end. It kept us moving and not antsy. However, second grade wasn’t positive because at the time I used to like to hide, at that point it was a game to me and I didn’t want to be found. Really it turned into a positive because the teacher requested a teacher’s aide for me because of the danger of hiding and because I could use the one on one help.
I was in inclusive education when I was in Main Street School at 18 months old. My parents always wanted me to try my best to be included with my classmates and graduate at 18. I was placed in settings that challenged me to reach my highest potential. There were times when my parents had to push to keep me included because they knew I would succeed.
When I was in 5th grade movement between classes was beneficial to me and was again brought back into my schedule. I can say it wasn’t easy with the transitioning, but this is one of the reasons why I had a teacher’s aide to help me, it eventually did get easier.
Another good experience was having a teacher’s aide, who allowed me to become independent. Ms. Allison Powers helped me to be that person, she got me involved in one of the clubs that the school had at the time. Builder’s club was an organization within the school that reaches out to others in the community, it helped me learn and grow into the person I am now. A not so good experience, later in high school I had a teacher’s aide that wanted to hold my hand in the hallway getting from class to class. I advocated for myself and said no thank you, I didn’t need the assistance crossing the hall. This was going backwards.
I had some great teachers that aided me into success like my English teacher and some of my Math teachers. Some other teachers that I had didn’t want to help me and those were the hardest years. I didn’t do as well as I wanted to. I was up half the night doing homework until midnight with my parents. High school I had good experiences other than the aide trying to hold my hand. I had teachers that were willing to help me and that was great. My teachers, or my teacher’s aide broke down the instructions for me so it was easier to learn as well as doing more hands on work. This really did help because I am a visual learner.
My college experience has been really good so far. My professors have been very accommodating. I like to email them before the class starts as an introduction. I tell them who I am. I let them know I have Down syndrome but do not use that as an excuse and it will not hold me back. I also tell him/her that I will have a mentor in the class with me to assist me with anything that I might need help with. In college I sometimes need help with notes, studying for tests and homework. My mentors don’t do the work for me, but they certainly guide me in the right direction to get my work done. I take one class at time. I am pursuing my Associates Degree. I need a lot more classes to get there. I currently have 35 credits and I need to get 60. I am getting closer.
I like the college experience because I get to interact with my peers and make relationships within my classes. I need financial assistance with my college classes, taking one class at a time is costly. I have thankfully been able to get scholarships, first the Tabani/O’Neil from NDSS prior to becoming an employee and secondly from Ruby’s Rainbow. I am grateful for those scholarships.