As a little girl, I traveled each summer to visit my father's relatives in Nothern Wisconsin. They were owned a dairy farm. I was an urban girl, so adjusting to this rural lifestyle was something I embraced with much enthusiasm. What I learned on that dairy farm each summer was simple and sweet. It was that my ancestors were amazing people that respected the land and people that loved and honored their family members, no matter how compromised they were. Inside their small, cozy farmhouse lie their severely handicapped boy Patrick. His bed was in the dining room, where he could bask in the bright sunshine. My mother had explained to me how he had come to life there. His parents had been told to institutionalize him just minutes after his birth. My great uncle and aunt listened to the doctors and abided by their rules. Just three short days later, my great aunt removed him and took him home. Patrick lived there until he died at age 31. The love and dedication of his mother inspired me to make changes in the field of special education. I went to college and received a masters degree in special education. I have worked to make each child's life important and fulfilling. I have made sure that even the most vulnerable are respected are understood. My aunts love for her child afforded me the opportunity to get to know Patrick and see his many capabilities. It inspired me to find ways for challenged individuals to have a voice and communicate. If only the technology of today would have been available to Patrick.. I know we would have been able to communicate more. The love and the respect would have been the same. The love I feel for my students of today is a direct result of the love I observed between Patrick and his mom. She never gave up on her son. I won't give up on my students!
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