During my last year with SAISD, I began a friendship with a student with Down syndrome. Every morning, without fail, she would come find me so that we "could talk." I was constantly amazed about how much joy this sweet girl had and how, with one smile, she would make my day. Furthermore, it warmed my heart to see my students accept her as a true friend when she would come to my classroom for a visit and not as a special needs student who needed pity. This beautiful young lady was a true gift of God. From this relationship, God gave me the desire to try my hand at teaching special education. I took the TEA/SBEC special education certification exam and passed.
At the end of the school year, I resigned from SAISD because Copeland would be starting kindergarten in the fall. I needed to teach for the same district he was in so our school holidays and breaks would be the same. After receiving my special education certification, I applied to Northeast ISD as a secondary special education teacher and was hired in July as a high school special ed co-teacher. I was placed in a regular classroom to give extra support to students with mild learning disabilities.
Within the first month of the school year, I was given my own classroom to teach 9-12 grade Reading labs since I was the only spec ed teacher also certified to teach Secondary English and Reading. The majority of my students had learning disabilities and many were emotionally disturbed. I was so excited to have the opportunity to teach such wonderful students. One of the strongest gifts that God has given me is compassion, especially very strong compassion for "the underdog" or anyone that is pushed aside by society. I have always taught my students that as long as they respect themselves, each other, and me I would fight tooth and nail for them. (On more than one occasion, I have found myself "at odds" with other teachers and a few administrators because of this promise.) Once my students realized that I took this promise seriously, they began to come around and were willing to try their best both in and out of the classroom.
Once again, God placed a student with Down syndrome in my life at my new school. “Adam” was a 19 year old senior who was very proud of the fact that he could read, learn, and would graduate at the end of the school year. Adam began to occasionally come into my classroom before school and during lunch so that he could have a place to read and talk about his books. These times quickly became a highlight to my day. In fact, I would find myself very disappointed on the days that he didn’t come visit me. Adam was very funny and I was constantly struck by the fact that he could pretty much “hold his own” while discussing books he had read, music, and movies.
God had touched my life with two wonderfully smart and perfect students with Down syndrome. I realized that it was time to adopt again and that He was calling David and me to adopt a special needs child, specifically a child with Down syndrome. So began what would, unbeknownst to us, a calling that would last a lifetime.