At the young age of 9, I first had to learn how to be brave. Learning did not come easy for me and social skills were difficult. I had fears and I was shy. I was told I had a learning disability but to me that meant I just learned in a different way. I was surrounded by understanding and sensitive teachers who I trusted and who believed in me.
After finishing school at Stephen Gaynor and Winston Prep, I went on to Endicott College. It was tough, but I graduated cum laude with my associate’s degree and continued on to receive my baccalaureate degree. I then got my master’s in special education from Bank Street Graduate School of Education. I worked for several years as a SEIT and in a preschool setting for kids with autism.
Through the Adaptations program at the Jack and Shirley Silver Center for Special Needs at JCC Manhattan, I was granted the opportunity to work in the Saul and Carole Zabar Nursery School at the JCC. Two years later I was offered my current position of nursery school librarian. I also work with other programs at the JCC, including 2s Together, afterschool classes, Story Time, and Havurah.
Having overcome many obstacles and challenges in my life, I am sensitive to the various needs of children and their families, which helps me in my role as librarian. I get to help children, families, and teachers choose books. I also use puppets to help children talk about and overcome some of their fears. Books and puppets are a way for children to step back and see how to learn things, like being brave. Maybe seeing a turtle puppet overcome his shyness will show students how they, too, can come out of their shell. We all have strengths and weaknesses—children need that to know that it's okay to be who they are and shine in their own ways.