A Thank You to Special Ed
In May, I exchanged keys to my special education office for keys to my new classroom.
For the last nine years, I’ve taught special ed. Now, this August, I’ll embark on a new journey in first grade. I’ll miss teaching special ed, truly. But it’s time for me to use my background in a new role, and I know I’ll continue to help students with special needs—this time, in a different capacity.
To express my gratitude and love, here’s an open letter I wrote to special education.
Dear Special Ed,
Thank you for all that you’ve taught me…
Thank you for the lessons I’ve learned. How to be an adult with my first real job. How to work with others. How to not sweat the small things. How to speak up for myself. How to advocate for my students. How to see life through the eyes of a child with learning, social, and emotional needs. How to recognize when there are some things you can’t change.
Thank you for the challenges I encountered. They’ve made me stronger. I made plenty of mistakes along the way, but I’m a better person for them.
More than anything, thank you for the people—my students, their parents and caretakers, my colleagues, and my teammates.
My students have shown me the meaning of true bravery: trying new things, facing their fears, not giving up. They are the heroes in my life, and they have imparted many more lessons to me than than I ever taught them.
To my students: I am so proud of you.
Thank you for entrusting your children to me. Thank you for believing in me and encouraging me. Thank you for working together to give the best to your children.
To the parents: I will never forget your children.
It has been a gift to work in countless teachers’ classrooms, seeing them give so much to students day after day. My leaders and mentors have strengthened me, stretched me, nurtured me, and believed in me.
To my colleagues: I am so impressed by you.
It takes a special person to work in special ed, and it takes a team. I’ve been blessed with the best special education teams out there. Teammates who turned into friends–friends who shared days full of laughter, tears, and every emotion in between.
To my teammates: I am so grateful for you.
Thank you, Special Education, for changing my life.
I can’t wait to use all that I’ve learned in my new classroom.
I'm Ali. I write about my journey of living a full and healthy life with food allergies, overcoming the comparison trap, and cultivating authenticity.