When Guy first went to college
he studied to be an architect. And he was good... is good. He created amazing spaces with unusual elements, like floors that appeared to float. He would have made an amazing architect.
One day I heard someone ask why he changed his mind. "Because I want to do something more significant with my life than making pretty houses for rich people. I want to do something that will matter in eternity."
Guy teaches Special Education. His class is filled with students that are mostly wheelchair bound, totally non-verbal, and in most cases, medically fragile and requiring total physical care and feeding. His mother once said, "So, you're pretty much a glorified babysitter then, aren't you?"
He is anything but.
A typical day in Guy's class, after physical needs of the students are met, might include reading from "The Call of the Wild" or "Huck Finn", unit lessons on seasons or sciences or cultures -including regional feasts, community-based instruction (taking the students off campus to teach consumer skills), daily living skills (even the most physically limited students enjoy the independence of using a shredder or blender, which Guy has rigged with special equipment so that the kids can start the machines), art and gardening. He is an amazing, patient and clever teacher to a group of young people who may never carve a wide path in this life, but who are certainly destined to do important things in the eternities. I am so proud of the work he does.
Guy was awarded Tuesday evening as Sacramento County Teacher of the Month for November (Actually, Certificated Employee of the month, which included all teachers, therapists, medical staff and credentialed personnel). He was presented to the superintendent and board of trustees, and after recieving his recognition, was asked to give a short speech. I could never express as well as Guy did what his life's chosen path means to him. Here is what he said:
"I am honored to stand before you this evening to be recognized as Certificated Employee of the Month. I have been working with students who have severe disabilities for almost 18 years. I started as a substitute para-educator, and am now in my twelfth year as a classroom teacher. I was first introduced to the field of special education by my wife - who is here with me tonight - and who has been a constant support and strength to me these past 18 years.
I would like to share briefly with you, two guiding principles that influence my work each day. First, I firmly believe that all people are part of a great world family, and as such, we all have a responsibility to love, respect and support one another. I truly feel blessed to be able to serve my fellow brothers and sisters in my classroom every single day; to teach them, support them, guide them towards increased independence, and thus provide them with an improved quality of life.
The second principle is that all students, regardless of their level of ability, deserve to learn and grow--to be engaged in fun activities, and to have a school experience which resembles that of their typically-developing peers. What this means for my students is that along with all the necessary physical care that goes on each day, they also get to learn about: the food pyramid and eating healthy foods, how their body processes work, that seeds grow into plants that then become the food we eat, and about different countries and cultures. I'm not sure how much of this information they are truly learning, but they deserve the opportunity.
To conclude my remarks, I wish to recognize all my colleagues and coworkers for their continued support and outstanding work - for we are a team, and I truly could not accomplish anything without those with whom I work. I love what I do, and it truly has been a wonderful 18 years! Thank you."