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John Case

Essay by   •  January 13, 2014  •  Essay  •  487 Words (2 Pages)  •  1,524 Views

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When I first met John, he was ten and I was fifteen. I remember him mightily pushing open the heavy doors and announcing in a loud voice that he had arrived. His appearance took me off guard. He had an awkward, yet, clumsy body, a crooked smiled filled with different colored braces, and large brown glasses. Rarely did anyone enter Math Corps: the learning center for children where I had recently begun working; with such passion. I wondered why none of my co-workers seemed to notice him. After all, John was not the typical embarrassed child, forced to come by his parents. As a sophomore in high school, I did not have any experience teaching kids with special needs. John was my first exposure to special education and initially it was hard not to get frustrated with him being loud, clumsy, and disruptive. Occasionally, he would get a good grade on his on his spelling unit, he leaped out of his seat and began loudly celebrating, only to be met with looks of disapproval from the other employees, but when his parents came he refused to leave before he had completed his lessons.

One day, John confided in me that he got picked on a lot. "It's because I have a little stutter", he explained in a gentle voice. Immediately, I knew that this was one of those sensitive moments where it is incumbent on the adult to say just the right thing to make the child feel better. It is the type of thing that is not so hard if you are a psychologist that practiced twenty years. Since I lacked those areas of study I just said the first thing that came to mind, "Everyone stutters." He looked up me and said, "Not really." That is not what I meant to say. I meant that everyone has something about them that seems weird to other people. Was I making him feel worse? "You are smarter than them anyway", I added, trying to look at him encouragingly. In response, he only muttered, "Okay" and continued to fidget with the computer keyboard.

These are the instances that stand out in my mind, more so than the obvious successes and failures. These "lessons for the teacher" as my supervisor used to jokingly call them, all had two things in common: first, none of them actually occurred in the pizza parlor next door to Math Corps, where John and I sometimes met before his appointment. There I got to know him for who he truly was: a tuba player, a coin collector, and a lover of pizza; not a list of psychological ailments on a piece of paper.

To most people, John's last appearance at Math Corps resembled his first almost exactly. But, I no longer saw an awkward, clumsy child: instead, I saw a friend, a unique person whose life had touched mine for a brief, but important moment.

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