Sunday, October 3, 2010

Going Back In Time

I ran into a journal that I had to keep for a class called Administration of Pupil Services in Elementary and Secondary Schools. The date of the journel entries in 1994. As I read this journel, I am amazed at how it captures the essence of "ME". I am going to share these writing in this blog because this is my place afterall!

The first one is entitled "Autobiography of Jane Peschel" - 9/8/1994

I came screaming into the world on November 1, 1950, eighteen months after my brother (or one of my brothers, I should say). There were six of us - three boys and three girls. I was number four. Stories about my early days were less than complimentary. I apparently had a strong will. I would turn blue if I wasn't fed on time. It was not something that pleased my mother very much and I think that she, in some ways always remained angry about that. My mother and I were never very close.

My dad died when I was in seventh grade. I liked him. It was always "safe" at home when he was there. I remember him as a "fun-loving", happy person. It is the way I like to think of myself today. I don't turn blue anymore when I don't get my way. I have an easy-going personality. That was my dad. I wish I would have had the chance to know him.

I became interested in college during my junior year in high school. I think it was honestly because I did not want to start a lifetime of working yet. When I told my mother, she said that college was nonsense for "a girl". I should be a secretary. That paid well enough...I went to college anyway! I was thankful for my dad's social security. It helped to pay the way!

It was in my second year at UW-Whitewater that I found Special Education. The coursework sounded interesting and I thought I might enjoy it. I did enjoy the courses but before student teaching, I quit and got married! Do you believe it? You see there was something about me that I did not understand until years later. I found that inside me was a very insecure person. I did not see myself as being smart nor did I see myself as being someone who would be loved by another. I think that I enjoyed special education because I saw the possibility of someone needing me and I got married for the same reason. My husband had been drafted into the army and was homesick. I could make him happy, so I quit school.

This next part, is written exactly the way I wrote it in 1994 but since then I identify a child as first being a student and then as having a specific disability as opposed to the other way around. Also, fortunately, I have been in education long enough to see the terms "trainable" and "educable" mentally retarded disappear from our identifying labels.

A year and a half later, I went back to Whitewater and finished. Upon graduation, I got a job as an aide in a "trainable" classroom. It was there that I found out that I could do a good job. I felt like I had an intuitive nature about kids and although I empathized with their handicapping conditions, I did not coddle them. They loved me for that. I felt empowered to apply for a teaching job. The feeling must have shown through because I did get a job teaching in Oregon, Wisconsin with "educable" students ages 5-10. It was supposed to be for one year only but it was a foot in the door, so to speak. At the end of the year, I was asked to stay. I have been there ever since.

The field of special education changed over the years and in Oregon, the number of mentally retarded students was on the decline. The special education director encouraged me to go back to school to get further certification. I had two little girls at home and a husband who liked me helping out at his retail store as much as possible, but I loved teaching and did not want to watch my job disappear. So it was back to Whitewater again. I went into the Masters program not at all sure if I would complete it but I would get a new certification area - Learning Disabilities. I took one class a semester going one night a week and studying on weekends early in the morning and when the girls took naps. Because I was working towards certification in LD, I was given a multi-categorical classroom (MR/LD) and held temporary certification for three years. In the end, I wrote the Masters exam which is an experience that I will never forget! I finally proved to myself that I was smart! (At least temporarily)

After nineteen years of marriage, I asked for a divorce. I was tired of the "I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never never forget he's a man" lifestyle! Now I have long, long discussions with my daughters about sailing your own vessel. I am in no way becoming an independent entity but instead finally seeing that I can love and be loved without being used!

It is because of my divorce that I am back in school. You see, over the years of being married, I have seen the power that one person can have to build or tear down, to criticize or congratulate, to humiliate or honor. Through teaching, I created a climate that I have wanted to have for myself. I wanted to be accepted as being an individual with individual skills and talents. I wanted my special education students accepted in the same way. I have become involved in actively promoting inclusion of special needs students in my classroom and in developing curriculum that has as its premise that all students can succeed. I work with teachers in our district now to continue the development of this curriculum and to promote acceptance of change.

I am busy but I feel good about myself and I am thankful that I did not follow the road my mother wanted for me. I am much to hyperactive to be a good secretary!