Dorina Ulitsin, a teacher in our “Teachers without Borders” program for the integration of teachers with disabilities, published a touching post on Facebook about her experience as a teacher with disability in new beginnings. Dorina’s words entered our hearts. We hope that September 1st will be everything that Dorina expects!
Here are her words as posted on dorina’s Facebook wall on 29 August 2022:
The last week of August, the last week of freedom and something inside me starts to move, call it whatever you like, butterflies, excitement doesn’t matter….
But the feeling is different and special from any other time on vacation, or any other time of the year. I don’t know if the school year will really start this time on September 1st, that’s not the point, the issue is the date. As someone who grew up in a home where both parents are teachers, there was always excitement around this date. We even have a tradition ever since me and my brother were little, every September 1st we go in the evening to a restaurant, because this date is a cause for celebration, a date of a new beginning, and even when we finished school, still the tradition was preserved, because somehow always around this date there was some kind of new beginning. And now I’m a teacher myself, and how much I’ve been through to get to it……
Even when I was little, I played with my dolls as a teacher. I used to take my mother’s teacher’s diary from the previous year and play the same teacher myself. When I grew up a bit I always knew that I wanted to work with children. I didn’t know exactly what, but I knew that it was a profession in which I would have direct contact with children. I would be able to educate them, help them, show them that they can do anything and fulfill everything if they only believe in themselves, because that’s how I got where I wanted to and fulfilled my dreams and goals. When it came time to enroll in my studies, I chose, after many deliberations, the special education track, because I might as well, you know?!?!?
During my studies, I had a number of practical experiences with different populations, and throughout my studies and at the end of my studies I thought I knew which direction in special education I wanted to pursue. I started looking for work, looking for an internship. The job search was a long and very difficult process for me. I never gave my disability any special place, or any importance, I always functioned normally like everyone around me because that’s how my parents educated me, and here for the first time it hit me in the face. School after school just didn’t accept me, everywhere I went for an interview, I always entered the room with a huge smile and lots of energy. Yet every time I encountered the same shocked look, and the question: “Oh Dorina? Are you the one who came to the interview?” Of course, in a moment their look would change to an embarrassed smile, but during the interview they would still look at me as if I had fallen from the moon. As time passed I began to despair and get exhausted. Again the same questions, again the same look, and here September had already arrived and I had no place to work, but I didn’t give up and kept looking…..
At some point I said well, I can’t find what I want at the moment, I’ll try to find something from another direction. The main thing is to start working, the main thing is to finish the internship year this year, so I changed direction, and still it wasn’t easy. Until one day I came across an ad that was looking for an integration teacher for a school in Holon. I was hesitant, because it wasn’t my first choice, but again it was important for me to do the internship year and finish it on time, So I decided to go for it. I said to myself, maximum at the end of this year I will look for another place. So I sent a resume to the school principal, and within a small amount of time I received a call for an interview, which ended up taking place on a WhatsApp video call due to Corona. During the conversation I made sure that the principal saw that I was not “used to” having “something” on my neck, maybe she would ask, maybe say something, And nothing…. We ended the conversation by saying that she would come back to me and that was it…
After the conversation I felt strange, I didn’t have to explain anything about my appearance, not say anything about my “disability”. Somehow I felt uncomfortable with it and asked to talk to her again on a video call and this time I made sure to tell her the truth. It didn’t seem to bother her too much, the only thing she wanted to make sure of was that I didn’t need accessibility, because the school is in the process of becoming accessible and is not yet accessible. She said that the main thing is professionalism, sensitivity and love for the students. I said that everything is fine and that’s when we parted. A few days later, I received a message that I had been accepted for work, and that I had been scheduled to meet with the principal and vice principal. Since then my life has changed. I started working in November, although the beginning was not easy. Nevertheless, a new teacher arrives at the school, and another teacher who looks different from anything the children and their parents know, but thanks to the accompaniment and support of the principal and the school staff, it passed quite easily. I went into every class where my students were sitting and just told the kids about myself. I let them ask questions, anything they wanted, and told them the truth. And like magic, from frightened, afraid looks, the looks changed to enthusiastic, the kids wanted to go out for classes with me, literally many among them. And? I am filled with energy from all the love they show!!!
And here this year I’m supposed to start a third year at this school, and if all that’s not enough, then thanks to my principal Tony Sassi who pushed and spurred me on, after the holidays, in October, I start my master’s degree. The feelings of this last week before the start of the school year are different, and yes there’s a little excitement for September 1st. I wish for myself that this year will be at least as good as the previous one and even better, and that I’ll continue to grow and develop. May we all have a good and easy school year!