Looking at All Students Equally


Parks’ students participate in recycling volunteering.

Is it just me, or are we all guilty of being ignorant? Ignorant in the hallways or classrooms.  The grocery store.  The park. Even in our own homes.

If we really take the time to re-evaluate our lives, we will begin to see that we all are very quick to judge.

Last week, I was assigned to cover Ian Parks’ Supported Life Skills class. Students in this class all have a disability of some sort. To be completely honest, I was a little nervous. Numerous times I would see “them” walking in the hallways, attending class and helping around the school. However, I never bothered to say a simple “Hi!”, or “Hello!” I guess I was caught up in my own thoughts of, “I’ll do my own thing and they will do theirs.”

On October 29, I had the opportunity to spend 2nd period in Parks’ Work Skills class. I was expecting to sit in class and learn/talk about real-life situations. Little did I know, these students are immensely involved around the school!

On Mondays and Thursdays the students go around the school to collect the recycling. I was lucky enough to witness their Thursday recycling routine, and we began to collect recycling on the South side of the school. Let me tell you, this was no ordinary recycling. Never in my life have I seen someone be so full of joy to collect recycling, helping out their school community.

Robert is always eager to help with recycling.
Robert is always eager to help with recycling.

Personally, I would throw a fit if I was told that I would be collecting recycling every Monday and Thursday for the rest of the year. Yet walking down the hallway, I can’t explain to you how big of a smile, Robert, one of the students, had on his face! Rolling that recycling cart with as much happiness and pride one could possess.

Robert’s story could be repeated for most of the students in Parks’ class.

Parks’ main goal is to build independence for these students. They are taught to complete a task, follow directions and then apply these skills to their own lives, across many settings. Many of us take our daily lives for granted including what we are capable of, our talents and even being able to complete basic tasks.  They face challenges, but they work had to overcome barriers building independence.

There should be a lesson in this for all of us.

Abby seems thrilled when she gets the chance to help around school.
Abby seems thrilled when she gets the chance to help around school.