Somewhere in a little town in Indiana, an elementary special education teacher gets paid way too little for what he does. That same teacher has 15 extraordinary children that probably will never fully know how lucky they are to have him. And that teacher has a note propped on his desk that says “When you have a bad day, read this so you know how blessed these kids are to have you.”
I know all this because I live in that little town, and my kid is one of those 15. And I wrote that note.
That teacher’s name is Mr. B. He’s been Grant’s teacher for four years in the Explorer’s Program, the program for children in our schools that are mildly to moderately mentally handicapped. And if he ever needs an organ, he can totally have mine.
Why do I love this man? Because he took it upon himself to find funding to take a Greyhound bus full of special needs children to Chicago. To see the aquarium and Navy Pier of course. And as a treat for doing well on an assignment, he once let Grant sit in his “wheely” desk chair and raced him down the hallway like it was the Indy500.
If you could see Grant and Mr. B together, it would truly warm your heart. Grant gravitates to him like he is the sun. And Mr. B loves him back. But don’t think that means he goes easy on Grant, because he doesn’t. He knows what Grant is capable of, and doesn’t accept less. He is the exact right combination of encourager and hard ass. Not an easy recipe, as any parent can agree.
So how did this fabulous person come into our lives? Well, we were lucky, that’s how. School systems across the U.S. report shortages in special education teachers. And statistics show that most of them only stay in the field for five years.
And since these folks clearly go into the field for the money and glamour – NOT – what does that tell you? It tells me they need more support to do the nearly impossible jobs they are given. Because of the 15 children under Mr. B’s tutelage, none have the same diagnosis/challenges. I can’t fathom the difficulty of his task.
The only thing I know to do is tell him how much we appreciate him. And hope he stays. Because he is one of the good ones. And there are lots more kids he hasn’t even met yet that need him.
“A hundred years from now, it will not matter what kind of car I drove,
what kind of house I lived in, how much money I had in the bank … but the world
may be a better place because I made a difference in the life of a child.” — Forest Witchcraft