Kira Cochran: It’s What We Do
What I do is to educate students who have moderate to severe learning disabilities, emotional disabilities and behavior challenges. Due to extreme challenges in their home lives, neglect, or physiological or mental health issues, these students come to school with intense emotional needs. I teach them social studies, math, science, English and reading. They are in grades 6, 7 and 8, but their reading and math skills are from the 2nd grade level to the 8th grade level.
I teach them to have empathy, be responsible, use self-control, and develop coping skills. I help them develop self-esteem and discover their strengths. I teach them study strategies and organizing. I cry for them due to their personal tragedies and, occasionally, clothe and feed them. I attend their chorus and band concerts and sporting events. I bear the brunt of their hurt and anger, and to endure verbal abuse from them. I teach them to love learning and to never let people tell them they can't.
I have done this for 11 years and I come back each day with a smile. I have a $100,000 student loan with a $600 minimum payment that covers only the interest. Up to this point in my career, my salary has qualified me for financial hardship deferments.
(Kira Cochran is a member of the Erie 1 Professional Educators Association.)