WRITE TO ME! firstname.lastname@example.org Come see me! Open studio HERE! November 25-26 (11-4 each day); Aurora Art and Design, daily until 12/24; Cooperstown Art Assoc. daily until 12/24; Ellis Hollow Community Fair, 12/10; December 10, Little Red Wagon at the Space at Greenstar. All material on this blog unless stated otherwise is copyright Gary Edward Rith 2016
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
sidestepping Sandy and Time Warp Tuesday!
Anyway, I have pots of water all over the place because life without water sucks. But its pretty quiet outside. maybe we are in the eye of the storm?
ANYWAY back to our regularly scheduled....
(You know that Jenn started this and there are many of us who participate including Brightside Susan and smalltown me and jen rants and raves and Tonya Lynn and Fond of Snape . Basically, a fun way to dig up and share some old photos!!!!)
So like I said last week, my 22 year old self was a pre-school teacher with few chances of advancement...or decent pay. I was in New York but heard that since Chicago famously had the "worst schools in America" (the Reagan administration actually said that) money was being thrown at Chicago and the University of Illinois was throwing money at future teachers. IT WAS TRUE. Not knowing anything about special education or Chicago, I applied to the masters program there, got in, got a full scholarship and a job with the university and moved there. Financially a very good deal, educationally? It was a terrible program and I didn't learn a thing! (but I did mess around in the university ceramic studio, which had nothing to do with becoming a special education teacher, and that IS HOW I MET THE WIFE...funny, huh?)
Anyway, I got a very good teaching job at a very good private school for blind and multi-handicapped children called Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind. They built a new school facility while I was there, state of the art. It was filled with kindly and hard working people, almost everybody from a modest and poor background. It was right next to University of Illinois, so I was obviously familiar with the area, but the school and everything about it changed my life because until then...I had always been surrounded by privilege. Poor, blind, physically and mentally handicapped children and assistants from housing projects were all pretty new to me. But I learned.
I can't say I did anything amazing or taught anybody anything. To tell the truth, you were trying to teach kids whatever they needed, the most individualized instruction possible. So, many were learning to feed themselves (remember: blind and physically handicapped), dress themselves, go to the bathroom, clean up after themselves, etc. One or 2 students I could try some reading skills with, and I did know braille at the time and how to teach it (don't remember it now!). There were also students with hearing impairments and one student with autism. He could not see and his functional IQ was in the mentally handicapped range and only spoke a couple of words but....he played piano brilliantly. It was a reward for him: do some school work then take a break to play piano.
The ceramics studio I mentioned the wife running at the university was just a block from the school and she let me bring kids over to make a mess which was a LOT of fun for blind kids. We also went to a swimming program, and you see both those pictures below. I was swimming with Eric there and that picture with his smile made it into a lot of newspapers and the annual report too....
(I taught there 1990-1993)
Me and Missus Tastycakes
ME, the TV interview :)
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