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Friday, April 22, 2011

Special Job

That's me right there in the middle.  Green snicker blue sneaker!  Zoom it!

Right out of High School I wanted to be  preschool teacher.  
I attended a Community College 
and earned an A.S. in preschool teaching.  My first job ever was at a daycare center, 
I later worked at another daycare center.  
Both jobs I dreaded :(  I later applied to be put on 
 the on call list as a substitute instructional aide at the San Ysidro School District .
I was often called to sub for the different preschools.  They also asked me if I 
wanted to work at the special classes.  I said yes, I needed to work!  I was 
called more and more often to the special classes 
as if was hard to find people that were 
willing to work there.
Special classes with special kids.  
The kids that people felt sorry for, without knowing that feeling sorry for 
them is the last thing that they need!  A position opened, I applied, I got the job.  I was officially a Health Clerk Instructional Aide at a severely handicapped class 
grades K-6  I never regretted it.

Hard work yes!  I won't deny it...Down syndrome, cerebral palsy,
  spinal bifida, among other conditions.  Some kids had only one 
condition, while others had a combination.  They were all at 
different levels of cognitive skills.  Some kids were able to 
work on math, reading and writing and were mainstreamed 
in regular classes for a couple of hours a day.

Wheelchairs, feeding, diapering, countless seizures,
toilet training, lifting, chasing after runaways, therapy sessions,
riding the bus with them before and after school and following the 
teacher's curriculum was an everyday thing.
A couple of the kids were taller and some stronger than me
I'm short and weighted less back then!

Lots of repetition on survival skills, such as how to brush their teeth,
comb their hair,   tie shoes, wash hands.
Pushing them harder and harder so that they were 
 able to reach a new milestone.
Lots of patience!

I worked with a wonderful teacher, and great coworkers.
I can really say we were a team and that surely made things easier for 
all of us and also the fact we had a nice fully equipped classroom.

Oh...and I should mention that I also had a part time job
because I was paying for my new car! 

There's the short straight hair (Mrs Ramirez)...I am bummed about that line across our faces :( sorry

Yes, we did have fun!  Fun Birthdays, and Holidays celebrations.  We cooked on
Thanksgiving and invite regular classes to our classroom
in the celebrations!   We baked Valentine's cookies and shared them with the school!
We took  local buses and trains to 
movie theaters then stopped at McDonald's for lunch!
We visited local fairs.  We went  to the
pool on summer school sessions, we had Special Olympics and yearly trips 
to Disneyland!  unforgettable...

I still have the medal I got at the Special Olympics.

 Now they all had different personalities.  
They were mischievous,  playful, stubborn,silly, lovable, dramatic, impulsive, 
bossy, among other traits!  They changed from day to day too!  
I also need to mention jealous!  A couple of the older boys
got very jealous and overprotected me when I started dating my now
husband.  He worked in the different schools in the District and
surely found ways to visit my school and my classroom more often.
The boys claimed me as their girlfriend!

This is sweet Ryan.  Little lovable guy!

There were many rewards!  
The smiles on their faces when they greeted me in the mornings.
Their satisfaction when they wanted to show me
they finally learned how to tie their shoes.
Seeing how after lots of practice they learned how to write their names.
Their smiley faces when they mastered a new skill.
Promotions to the next grade level.
Celebrating graduations.

Me and Andrea doing dishes.  This picture made it to the school calendar, everybody saw me for the month of March

My heart was torn apart when I had to make the decision to leave the classroom. 
We were newly weds and we were eager to start a family with me as
a full time housewife and a stay home mom.
 My fertility wasn't helping.  Sophia came 2 1/2 yrs later.

This is the lovely card they gave me when I left...I treasury it!

I came back to work in the classroom 4 yrs later when my Sophie was  1 1/2 yrs old.
But things were not the same.  Even though my sister watched my baby
...my heart ached every time she cried when I went to work.

This time I was on a one to one basis with this kid named Randy.
He was 10 yrs old.
I don't recall his exact condition, but he could not walk,
nor he could sit on a wheel chair,
therefore he had to travel on a wagon.
He would wear a diaper as could not
control his bowel movements.
He couldn't talk either so he communicated with
us with a computer.  He was very smart
it was his body that did not respond.

We spent long hours working on puzzles
large puzzles...500 or 1000 pieces!
He certainly was good at it.  He pointed to a 
specific piece, then showed me where to put it!
He was just amazing!
We also listened to two Harry Potter's audiotapes.
We watched one of the movies in the class
and went to the movie theater to see the other one.
He got sick on Christmas Break and didn't come back to school
We paid him a visit to cheer him up.
His health started to deteriorate more.
He died on April, 30 2004.
After Randy's death and
as soon as the school year was over
I went back for good to being a full time housewife and mom
and would not change that for the world.

This was a trip to Disneyland!  Randy's dream.  You can barely see him in the middle.

I do miss working there sometimes.
I enjoyed it and also learned a lot! 
The everyday things we do and take as routines, they celebrate!
The innocence and pureness of heart about how they see and act on things we consider 'bad'
 Lots and lots of things we 'normal' people take for granted...they treasure!

I really do hope that I made a difference in their lives...
because they really touched  mine and made a difference in it!


  1. Clau!!! You are amazing!! You made an impact in those kids, I am sure they carry you in their hearts like you do them!!

    You are a hero not only to those kids but to your beautiful Sophie and Xavi!! Being the wonderful mom that you are!!

    I love you!!!!!!


    Happy Weekend my beautiful friend :)

  2. This is such a heart touching story. There are so many things we take for granted!!! You look like my beautiful friend named Mari. If I ever get a picture of her. I will email it to you. :)

  3. Thank You for the well wishes, Happy Easter, I am your newest follower. oxox, Diane

  4. I cant believe i almost missed this story! Claudia, you are such a Great Person! It's a blessing to work with such people. You think you are helping them to learn something, but actually they teaching us something much bigger! I kinda miss that, time ago was helping with cerebral palsy for couple years... Was such an experience! Thank You for sharing this!!!


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