When I was a young child in school, it was tough. Every time I was in class, I wasn’t able to pay attention. I would easily get distracted and doze off. I had a moderate stutter. It was difficult to express my feelings, which lead up to me misbehaving. I would start throwing things, have emotional outbursts and curse. I didn’t have emotional guidance until I went to middle school.
Sixth grade was a very traumatic year for me. My class wasn’t the best learning environment for me. I was getting bullied really badly by students who would tease me about my stutter, physical appearance, or my learning disability. I remember the first day of school, I was in a group of students. As soon as I spoke, I was stuttering, and they laughed at me and called me names. The class pace was too fast for me, from one assignment to another. If I didn’t do the classwork on time, that was it. My grade would go down. I tried my very best. I wanted to take my time completing assignments. The teachers weren’t able to give me enough guidance and assistance. I would often get frustrated. There were times that I went out of class and cried. The bullying was out of control. The constant name-calling and plotting against me was painful. My grades were poor.
The only special education teacher in the general education classes was Ms. Mook. She saw that I was struggling. With the academic and emotional help, it made school a little bit easier. She got me into her tutoring program after school and made a strategy chart for me. I still had difficulty managing to be in the class. My breaking point was when my emotions got the best of me due to bullying. I remember I was eating lunch in the cafeteria. A group of kids were cursing at me and discussing a fight that I was in. At that moment, I had enough. It was frustrating and draining to keep getting picked on. I yelled, cursed, threw things, and ran out the cafeteria crying hysterically. All I wanted was genuine people in my life to support me and love me. I was tired of people making fun of me. I told Ms. Mook, “It’s either I go to another class or another school.” Later on Ms. Mook took me to another class. We walked in together. It was a bigger class space with a smaller group of students. I saw a red-headed teacher I had seen in the hallway before. There were two other teachers sitting at a table. Then I noticed most of the students had severe and visible learning disabilities. Some of them were in wheelchairs or had behavior issues. I did a project with the class. I thought I was visiting. Little did I know that this was my new class. I felt comfortable in Ms. Kersey’s class. Her class was safe, compassionate, and supportive. As time went on, it was mandatory for me to be in her classroom. It was overwhelming for me at times. The students needed a lot more attention than I did and I had more experience and knowledge than they did. As a result, I was ashamed to be in that environment. Kids from the other class called me a “sped,” “retarded,” or “slow.” I didn’t let what people said about me get to me that much. I knew what I wanted out of my standard education. I wanted a supportive environment. Ms. Kersey and I built a strong professional relationship.
When 7th grade came, I eventually got over that shame and felt comfortable. I still had times when I felt like I was left behind or not challenged enough. It was difficult balancing my education. I needed assignments that were appropriate for me. Ms. Kersey’s assignments were too easy. I got very frustrated. I remember the time when she gave me the easiest homework. I was upset. I told her in an inappropriate way that I needed challenging work. I had a outburst. She talked to me about the appropriate way to address my needs and that I should be careful with how I say it. I agreed. I didn’t want the others to feel bad that their academic paces weren’t like mine. I got the point that Ms. Kersey was making. Just because something may be easy for you, that doesn’t mean it’s easy for others. I identified my strengths and weaknesses because we all have both. It doesn’t make me any different. My class setting accommodations worked out well. I needed a smaller group setting with high function assignments. I went to Ms Mook’s and Ms. Kersey’s class to create an educational setting that benefited my needs.
The first day of 8th grade came, and I was excited. I moved up to advancing classes but was still in a smaller group most of the time. I was sad because I wanted to stay with Ms. Kersey’s class, but I knew it was time to move on. I was in Mr. Patlan’s class and two other bigger class settings. At first, I didn’t feel comfortable in his class. I missed all of the emotional support I had from the other class. Then I told myself, “Seana, this is what you’ve been wanting for a long time. These new classes are getting you ready for high school. You can do it.” There was one friend in particular that I helped a lot in class. She was in Mr. Patlan’s class. She had a physical disability and was very emotional. I saw myself in her. Instead of ignoring her and paying less attention to her, I helped her with her emotions by giving her guidance on how to deal with stressful situations. I showed what I was doing so she could learn from the strength that I had. I was mature and handled things like a young adult. I didn’t make small problems into big problems. I also identified what a good friend was vs. who weren’t my friends. Then I knew what people’s true intentions were. When 8th grade was over I was proud of myself. That is called GROWTH! I went from a frustrated girl that needed lots of support to a mature, ambitious young lady. It is okay to have a learning disability. You are not alone. Anything is possible. You can grow. It takes time and effort. You have to put in dedication to anything you want to do in life. My specific learning disability doesn’t define me as a person.