A few days ago I received an e-mail from Samantha Beers, Teacher at LABBB Butler Elementary School. She was writing to tell me that she went to see Temple Grandin speak at Babson College. She included a picture of her with Temple and she proceed to tell me that she also had the opportunity to have dinner with her. It was an amazing story and I asked her if she could write more details so I could share with others.
I will let Samantha tell the rest of the story in her own words. It is very inspirational!
Written by: Samantha Beers
When I was in kindergarten, I was diagnosed with a learning disability. I had a learning processing delay, was placed in speech classes, taken out for resource room and had test anxiety. At a young age, I saw that I struggled so much more than my peers and all I wanted was to fit in and be as smart as them. Through my elementary years, I was told I would not be able to catch up with my peers and that I would continue to struggle. In 5th grade, they wanted to take away my services. Were they kidding! I had fought so hard to get to where I was and now that they saw I was making progress, they wanted to take away all the people who supported me and helped me get this far. With my resource room teacher and mom’s support, I stood up in front of the Special Ed. Director and explained that if you took away my services I would not be able to make a smooth transition to middle school, I would not learn how to continue to be a good student, and I still needed the support in writing, reading, math and techniques for taking a test. Well after that meeting, I was granted my services until the end of 6th grade and then was placed on a 504 plan until the end of high school. Extended time for tests helped me considerably. While I was taking a science research class in high school, I got involved in a research study about adults with Asperger’s Syndrome. I had the opportunity to work at the NYU Medical center for Brain Research. This is where I developed an interest in different kinds of disabilities and those on the Autism Spectrum.
When it came to the SAT, I heard my guidance counselor tell me “It’s going to be very hard to get into a college with these scores. We need to be practical about where you apply.” Again, with the support of my mom and resource room teacher from elementary school, I applied to 13 schools and guess what I got into all of them! When I entered college, one of my mom’s friends told me about Temple Grandin. I was inspired by her life challenges and experiences and then I began to learn about her in some of my courses. I continued to read about her and realized that I wanted to help children with special needs. After graduating from Northeastern in Psychology/Elementary Education, I stayed an extra 2 years and completed my Masters in Elementary Ed./Special Ed. I wanted to motivate students and help them find what they were good at just like my mom and resource room teacher did for me and just like the support Temple received from her mother and teachers. When I heard she was going to be at Babson, I immediately signed up. I wanted to hear her story in person and really see what its like to “think in pictures,” to be labeled on the spectrum, and to be so successful.
My boyfriend wrote a similar story to what I have told you to the women who organized the presentation and in response he was told that I could join Temple for dinner after the presentation. It was a life changing experience and she is an incredible speaker! She is a true example of what it is like to have support at a young age from teachers and family and how everyday we have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our students.