Memory From My Former Teacher
Spoke with one of my high school teachers I haven’t spoken with in a long time. He sent me his rewrite of events from his perspective.
It’s amazing to reconnect after many years. You should reach out to one of your teachers and say hi.
From Mr. Mills:
Sean was one of the first regular education students that indicated an interest in helping out with my class during the school day. Sean would play basketball with my students in the gym, go on walks around the school, or just sit in my classroom and interact with them.
Sean was also in my churches Boy Scout Troop. Sean told me that he needed a project to complete his Eagle Scout Rank. I encouraged him to do something that he was passionate about, which at the time was working with my special education students.
Sean came up with a great idea. He proposed organizing a workshop to teach the students at Mayde Creek about the special education students at their school. The special education students at Mayde Creek had a wide range of disabilities ranging from high functioning autism to children who were non-verbal and had feeding tubes. He asked me if I would help him organize the workshop and conduct it. I readily agreed. This is what I had been trying to accomplish in the school with little success.
Organizing this type of activity would be easy for Sean because he was a leader at Mayde Creek and very popular with the students. At the school dances and talent shows, Sean was always the most popular attraction. So, that made it easy for him to get a large group of students to participate in his workshop.
The goal of Sean’s workshop would be to teach the attendees how to positively interact with my students with disabilities. As the participants in the workshop learned about my special education students, hopefully, they would be more accepting of them at school.
Before the workshop, as my students with disabilities walked down the hallway during class changes, it seemed as if the Red Sea was parting as my students moved forward. As a result, my students would walk down the hall with their hands at their sides avoiding eye contact with any other student.
After the workshop, the results were far greater than Sean or I anticipated. Not only were the regular education students more accepting of my students, but they embraced them. The regular educations students would give my students high fives and say hello to them as they walked down the hallway. Another exciting thing also happened. Some of the students actually asked some of my students to homecoming dances. It was amazing to watch.
Sean told me about his interaction with a student with downs syndrome. Enjoying his new relationship with the student body of Mayde Creek, he had decided he was going to find a date to the Sadie Hawkins Day dance. After he told Sean about it, Sean followed him to the lunch room. The student went right up to a table full of girls, who were in their drill team uniforms and started asking them one by one if they would go with him to the homecoming dance. The girls all very politely said ‘no’. Even though he had struck out, he was excited about what he had accomplished. That gave Sean a great idea. He decided he would take any student with disabilities on a group date to Sadie Hawkins Day dance.
Not long after the workshop we heard about a national organization, called Best Buddies. They sponsor clubs in high schools where regular education students plan activities with special education students. Sean and I started the first Best Buddies chapter at Mayde Creek shortly after our workshop. Sean volunteered to be the clubs first President. We had many activities including several events with the Special Olympics.
As an added plus, Sean was asked to participate in the Best Buddies leadership training at Loyola University. It was an exciting opportunity for Sean to go all the way to Chicago to learn more about how to include students with special needs into the high school mainstream.
I was extremely excited at the results of Sean’s Eagle Project. He finished up his last merit badges and was award his Eagle Rank. I was so proud of Sean that I sent out about 100 requests to celebrities and government officials asking them to send him a letter or certificate of congratulations.
Some of those that responded were Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Michael Chrichton, Trent Lott, Leonard Merrell, Pope John Paul II, Jerry Jones, Rick Perry, Jon Lindsay, John Ashcroft, Pat Boone and others.
Thank you, Sean, for being the quality individual that you are and sharing your talents and gifts with your community. Myself and the community of Eagle Scouts thank you for upholding the long tradition of service, loyalty, and duty to God and Country. It is my pleasure to know you and of having a small part in who you have become.