By: Emilee Schevers
CNIB National Youth Council Member
For as long as I can remember, I would spend this time of year back-to-school shopping, sending out accommodation letters, and picking my timetable. For most youth, mid-August is about preparing for the upcoming school year. But last year, for the first time, I wasn't getting ready to return to school to learn; I was getting ready to teach! So, how did I get here?
Unfortunately, like most students with disabilities, I went through my share of teachers who wouldn't follow through on accommodations or said that I didn't need them. My journey to becoming an educator started in grade 6 with a teacher I will forever remember. I was just beginning to understand my visual impairment and that I couldn't see the way other kids could. I wasn't quite sure what accommodations I actually needed – as opposed to what adults told me I needed. When it came to assignments, I was typically given a beige-coloured paper with large print on it and somehow thought that was the only option available to me.
One day, my sixth-grade teacher called me over to their desk. Thinking I was in trouble for something, I was surprised to find their desk filled with ten different coloured papers with large print on them. "What one do you like the best?" they asked. I chose the cherry pink paper because it combatted my light sensitivity more than the beige paper.
This was the first time I remember being asked what I wanted and having a teacher who tried to problem solve WITH me instead of FOR me. This teacher also went out of their way to get a grant for goalball equipment and teach the entire class how to play
These small experiences shaped the person I am today. I knew I wanted to be that person for others: to make kids feel like they had autonomy, teach them how to advocate, and be a positive role model.
After two years of school, I entered the field as an Early Childhood Educator because I knew I had the power to be the reason why kids would enjoy learning and see themselves represented in my classrooms.
To all the teachers out there, you are making a difference. To all the students, I hope you can find a passion for life-long learning and know you can be successful in the classroom.