NJ Teachers’ Lounge is excited to continue its Teachers of New Jersey series in 2018. This editorial series is curated by photojournalist, Gregory Andrus, creator of the social media series, Portraits of the Jersey Shore. These stories highlight the joys, struggles, and personal reflections that surround being a teacher.
“I was a crack-baby. My biological mother was living in a car when she was pregnant with me. I was born under five pounds. My adoptive parents had lost their son to SIDS. He died in his crib. My mom called Child Protective Services and told them she wanted to adopt a boy. They told her they had a boy, a newborn, for her, and that boy was me. They fostered other kids before me. I was the first they ever adopted. Many other adoptions and foster children followed. They have adopted and fostered over 200 kids in the last 30 years. Kids who have autism, cancer, special needs, children of all different races and backgrounds. I do not even remember all of their names, there were so many. Some of the kids they fostered, their biological parents were able to get their lives together, and they were able to go back to their original homes.”
“I actually was in the scholar program for accounting. I had a sister at the time who was on dialysis waiting for a kidney transplant. It was at that time that I realized that I didn’t want to be an accountant, even though it would have been good money. I wanted to have a career that could impact kids’ lives, who do not have everything that I was given growing up. Like I said, I was a crack-baby, and I shouldn’t have been given the life I had with my family, and I want to pay it forward.”
“I am a para-professional at Southern Regional High School. The teacher sets up the IEP’s and sets up the lesson plans, and I implement them. I am one-on-one with the students. I teach a wide variety of subjects. But we have kids whose biggest thing is learning how to take care of themselves when they go to the bathroom. The kids I work with are a joy, but are tough. Many of them are 5’10 and can be impulsive with their behaviors. I have been working with the special needs population at Southern Regional for six years, but really I have been doing it for my whole life, because many of my siblings were special needs. I really enjoy it. I also coach regular-ed kids in track. “
“My parents mean everything to me. My dad is almost 70, and even at this point in his life he has kids that are newborns, kids under four years old. I know he wouldn’t be as happy as he is without them. No matter what goes on in my life, no matter what goes on in anybody else’s life, my parents are always there for us. My parents are extraordinary people, I thank God every day for my family and for the life they gave me. And that’s why I do what I do for a living, to give back.”