When you've been in the teaching field for as long as I have, you come to realize that the teachers stick together. It's kind of like a sisterhood or a brotherhood, but you're not just empowering each other -- you're all working together to give kids a great start in life.
Now, experiencing it as a disabled woman is bit of a interesting challenge, but it's amazing to me how much the kids (and the adults, too) learn from me having a physical disability. The kids may not learn about respect the first day, but by January they know I mean business as a teacher. Plus, it may take them until November to get the whole concept of school, since for a lot of my students, it's their first time away from home all day. And on top of all that, they have a teacher in a walker. But by November, they usually are pretty good and don't ask the questions like "why do you talk funny?" and "why do you walk funny?"
But the first day I usually give a kid-friendly speech about disabilities to tell them a little more about me, and quell their curiosity a bit; this is a preschool class, for crying out loud! Some of them have never been to school, so how would they know how to approach the concept of a teacher in a walker?
When I started my educational journey back in '91, there were no books about disabilities for kids. There's a couple out there now, but they are few and between. Children's books are a vital source for early learning and development, so the lack of resources for teaching kids about disabilities and how to treat those who have them means kids don't know how to interact with the disabled community as well. Plus, disabled kids should be able to read about characters they can identify with, too!
I think books are a great way to educate and empower kids with knowledge, which is why I am not only working on another young adult novel (I have written two already), but I am working on my first children's book, which is geared toward teaching kids about disabilities and acceptance. Hopefully, it will be coming out next summer. I plan on writing many more as well because I want to focus on my passion for inspiring people through my writing.
My dream is to become a New York Times best-selling author and to get my PhD in special education. Even though the school I work for, and the ones I attended growing up, offers support to those students who need it, many kids are left without the support they truly need and deserve. I feel like every child should be surrounded by love even if they are a little different.
Born with Cerebral Palsy Win Kelly Charles has made a powerful statement to the world that there is no such thing as a disability. For more about me and my work, visit wincharles.com