My name is Haily Joseph, an up-and-coming second year student of the Cormier Honors College at Longwood University. My declared major is Liberal Studies with a concentration in Special Education. While I am currently working on obtaining my Bachelors Degree, Longwood has given me the great opportunity to pursue a Master’s Degree as part of a five year program. In the future, I also plan to gain specific certifications that will make me better able to serve as a teacher to students diagnosed under Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Like many of my peers, I arrived at Longwood as a freshman already knowing my intended profession: a teacher of those with special needs. However, I only came to this choice during my senior year of high school. Prior to my final year as a high school a student, I had actually been focused on the field of veterinary science; animals had always been my passion, and my school had provided me with the training to become a certified Veterinarian’s assistant. Despite this, I steadily found myself constantly in the special needs classroom as a part of helping to create the Peer Mentor Program, which allowed me to use a class block to spend time in the special needs classrooms as a teacher’s assistant.
Given my involvement in the Peer Mentor Program since my Freshman year, I got to know each of the students; who they were, what there unique exceptionalities were, and how they needed there education adapted to suit their individual needs. I was under the guidance of their teacher, Linda Jennings, who I quickly came to admire for the way she taught the students, and aspired to follow in her footsteps as a special educator. Instead of absentmindedly watching her interact with the students and doing as she said, I soon found myself thinking “this activity is definitely something that I want to include in my own classroom”, and in the case of certain events, such as a student throwing a tantrum, I became more interested in watching the way that Mrs. Jennings handled it “for when I have my own students”.
Having a brother that has been diagnosed with high-functioning Autism only served to further my interest within the field of special education, and I can only hope to be as great my teachers, such as Linda Jennings. My brother is not my only inspiration for wanting to be a special educator. As of the last two years, I have also worked as an Attendant for two other individuals with special needs. One is a young boy and the other is an eighteen-year-old girl, both of which have Cerebral Palsy and differing levels of physical, speech and cognitive disabilities. It is through interacting with these individuals, that I hope to be able give all of my future students the proper attention and help that they all deserve. I can only be thankful that Longwood University has provided me with way to get there.