Special ed. Those are scary words. I thought people viewed me as an idiotic outcast who wasn’t as rational or smart as the other students in my classroom. But I was just struggling with English – a completely new language for me.
“Time to head to the special ed classroom,” said my teacher. I ignored her. My classmates knew that she was talking about me, but I acted as if I didn’t hear her. Embarrassment, guilt, and anger filled me. At first, I didn’t want to go, but in the end I decided it was best to follow her.
I kept reminding myself, “I need to do this, for me and for my mom.”
. . .
As a poor girl in Ecuador, my mother had to drop out of school at age 10. She had to help her family by working and taking care of her siblings.
After coming to the United States, she was torn between working to earn money we desperately needed (including a job at Taco Bell), caring for me and household duties. She did her best by raising me with food, clothes and love.
My elementary school lacked support for struggling students. My homework would be late, the answers wrong and my grades below average. These issues concerned my mother so much that she decided to transfer me to a bilingual charter school.
As a new student at Aurora Charter School, I had to adjust to a completely different way of doing things. A year later in sixth grade, I was told to participate in special education classes.
I didn’t really know what special education was, because they didn’t have such a thing at my previous school. Many times I refused to attend special ed classes until the teacher came to get me. Finally, I had to remind myself that it was for my own good. If I wanted to earn better grades, then I needed to go to special ed and improve my English. So I did.
In seventh grade one of my hardest subjects was science, where I struggled with understanding the terms. Fortunately, the science teacher was very patient. He encouraged me to study hard and take notes. My test and quiz scores slowly improved. One day, I was stunned to discover I got a perfect score. My hard work had actually paid off, and my teacher was proud of my results. So was I.
Throughout my middle school years, I continued working hard and doing my best. I faced challenges and overcame them. As a high school student I still face struggles, but I’m focused on studies that will allow me to continue on to college. I’ve made the dean’s list, so I think I’m making progress.
So special ed turned out to be a blessing. And I’m looking ahead to college, not only in hopes of a better life for myself, but for the honor of bringing my mother’s family name to college with me.