1. I work with cool people. Some from my office are like family, some from my schools are good friends.
2. I get to watch teenagers with developmental disabilities go from being ninth graders (really, who likes ninth graders?... especially the boys? my theory is that ninth grade boys are ninth grade boys are ninth grade boys, and no amount of intellectual ability is going to improve on that fact) to functioning, semi-rational adults who can do a job and do it well.
3. Sometimes I get to celebrate the successes of those students in front of their families, teachers and higher level district types. Last month I got to honor two of my students who are exiting high school this year. One is going to work on a yard crew for a sheltered workshop. His dad was just in awe that the time he has spent with C doing weekend chores has led to his success. (To really understand C's progress, you should know that he was instrumental in changing his school's policy for working off-site. And not in a positive way. In large part because of his community and social behaviors, it was determined that students who were entering the program had to stay on campus the first year... ahh, those freshmen boys!) He used his $100 "scholarship" to buy steel toed boots. The other student, J, has been accepted at a day program for artists. (Getting into this program from our area practically requires an act of congress because of funding.) Eh, he used his money to buy a graduation hat with mouse ears at Disneyland... and some pens, but most of his work is Disney-esque, so it makes sense.
4. Occasionally I know that the money my students earn helps out their family. Sad, but gratifying.
5. I take pride in the fact that, while most of our jobs are small (500-5000 pieces), and for people and companies you've never heard of, we are also linked with the nation's largest mass mailer (aside from the government) and, through them, to one of the only car companies that grew during the recession and all those automotive recalls. This week we started assembling envelope boxes... 120,000 envelope boxes. We should be done before the end of the month, and we're not even using half of our students. It's the sort of job that has to be done, but no one really wants to do it, and my kids are rockin' through 'em!
Oh sure, there are hard days and annoyances and... you know, sometimes parents who want to have their child's best interest at heart can come off like complete social morons.
And then there are days like yesterday, when I helped chaperone a bunch of middle schoolers *shudder* (who knew there was something worse than ninth graders?!?) at "Education Day." What's that? Well, that's when a bunch of schools are invited to a low-cost day at the minor league ballpark in one of the towns where I work. Turns out that about 60% of my classes were there, too. So I spent the day watching baseball, chatting with people I already like to hang out with and wrangling the occasional bratty girl. (It was always a girl.)
I sent Tom a couple of photos messages.
"Another tough day at the office"
"What about this view? Wish you were here."
Not sure why he never responded.