As we conclude the semester and the halfway point of my college career, I find myself in a place I never expected to be: I plan on pursuing the career my major is designed to prepare me for – truly shocking, I know. As an early childhood special education major, my plans for the future have always involved using my undergrad knowledge as auxiliary to my main work, either as an occupational therapist or human services nonprofit leader. But that has recently changed. Though, this shift has not left me without doubts. When asked why they chose to study special education, my peers speak of beautiful stories of childhood dreams, transformative teachers, and family members that inspired their interest in disability rights advocacy. In contrast, I find myself wondering, “how did I end here?” After reflecting on this question, I realize that my interest in early childhood special education is not new. Like my peers, it has been in front of me since I was an elementary student myself.
So, in less than 100 words, how did I end up here:
My K-12 education sparked an interest in educational approaches and equities through my attendance of 5 schools with dramatically different demographic makeups and teaching styles. In high school, my work with Columbus Early Learning Centers honed this interest in early childhood education, in particular, because the beginning years of a person’s life are the most important in terms of development. I chose to study early childhood special education over general ECE because special education targets delays and disabilities often caused by societal inequities and allows for an individual approach to education within the public school system.
I’d be remiss to leave out the experiences this semester that have solidified my new path. Most notably, my work with The A. Sophie Rogers School for Early Learning and an eye-opening conversation with the President of United Way of Central Ohio, Lisa Courtice, at the culmination of my fundraising and philanthropy course.
I don’t expect the plans I hold for myself to stick for eternity. They certainly have changed in the past. However, I am eager to have an answer when people ask me why I decided to become a teacher.