Op-ed: Savour these learning opportunities
- Jeanelle Mandes | October 21, 2018
It’s that time of the year again! A brand-new academic year has begun for elementary, high school and university students. It’s always an exciting time because it’s a fresh start for everyone. I felt the excitement seeing all the ‘back to school’ posts on social media. It made me a bit envious of those heading back to university.
I reflected on the yester-years of my first few years of university up to the last year of my studies. I missed that feeling but then I remembered all those long nights of studying and writing papers then suddenly, I snapped back to reality.
That’s not intended to frighten anyone pursuing a post-secondary education. When I think back to my university days, I wish I had spent more time reading my assigned textbooks. I wish had spent more time editing my terms papers before submitting to my professors. I wish I would have taken the extra time to search for all the scholarships that are available to students. But all in all, my university days were the best days that I still cherish to this day. I’ve met an abundance of incredible people who are still my friends today.
I had my share of challenges especially being a single mother, a full-time student and working part-time on campus to support my daughter. It was hard. All my family lived far so I had no one in Regina except my friends who I adopted as family. When I had moments of weakness and defeat, and during those times, I just called my family who picked me up back up and reminded me of why I’m out here. Afterwards, I would visualize myself walking across that big stage with my degree in my hand – that was my finish line. Those strategies helped me through the rough patches of my academic life.
Cherish those moments. Those are obstacles you can reminisce down the road and see the areas of self-growth. Your school years are the best years to experience!
Turning the page, I noticed that I’m one of those parents who upload a photo on social media of my kid on the first day of school. Nothing wrong with sharing some pride.
This year, I was more nervous than ever for my daughter Sharlize because she started at a new school. She does not do well with transitions and new faces so you can understand my anxiety. Sharlize has Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). She was placed in a new program that caters only to children with severe autism. It’s a one of a kind program. When I was first learned about this program several months ago, I was offended. I thought it was a desperate attempt from the school board to gather all the autistic students that are hard to manage and place them together away from “normal” students. I was ignorant to the efforts of the team who took the time to design this program. I met with my daughter’s new teacher and the trained educational assistants a week before school started. I was amazed that a team of staff cared so much to design a much-needed program for children like Sharlize. My questions and concerns were answered in that meeting and I left with a sense of relief.
When you think about it, imagine being in a “normal” classroom and having sensory overload from the lights humming, the sounds coming in from different directions, the inability to speak and communicate. It’s no brainer why most children with neurological disabilities suffer from continuous meltdowns.
But I’m at ease knowing the highly trained professionals in this program completely understand their students. This program is designed to meet the academic level of their students and to find ways to cater to their needs and help them work through those meltdown moments. I have so much respect for them and all educators who work with students with disabilities. They are the real MVP’s!
So, whether if you are in elementary, high school or university; make it fun and memorable. Happy learning!