The halls at Nevada Union High School, or almost any high school for that matter, can be intimidating.
Insults and negative glances can hurt. This year, however, I got to work with a strong group of students who never let those glances get in the way of enjoying school.
I assisted students who have smiles for everyone, even for those who do not understand them. I am writing this because I want to use the “power of the press” to share the positive impact of supporting students with special needs. I enrolled in a Peer Tutoring class, and I want everyone to know how important this has been to my high school days.
I work with two teenagers with special needs — both NUHS freshmen. Being by their sides each day of this past school year, I see how they affected those around them and how they interacted with other NUHS teachers. It has been great to spend part of my day with students who always put on smiles to share with others. I also spent time with their parents because I wanted to learn as much as I could about the backgrounds of these students.
Because of privacy reasons, I cannot disclose their names, but one parent has allowed me to share the name of his son’s disability: Chiari malformation, which I have learned is a structural defect of the cerebellum. Because of this class, I have studied about this medical diagnosis and I have used my time to learn the best ways to help him get through part of his day. What an education I have received.
The biggest lesson I have acquired is that all kids in high school want fun and friendship. Even if the boys I worked with are slow with their speech, they still want to be part of a conversation. They still want to ride bikes and socialize. They still want to be a part of all they can while at school.
NUHS is to be applauded for offering a peer tutoring class. As the dad of one boy told me, “My son can be sick all night and wake up and want to go to high school. He does not want to miss a day.” Even if he only gets to stay for an inning of NU baseball or one quarter of a basketball game, he wants to be part of everything that makes up NUHS. I wish all my friends had the same attitude.
As a student in NUHS’s Partnership Academy, I know how important it is to have the sense of family that is developed among my academy classmates. Peer tutoring has allowed me to see that all kids on our campus need the very same thing. We all need acceptance, which when you think about it, isn’t that hard to offer to one another.
I encourage all who read this to consider the life lessons they can get from taking a class in peer tutoring. It is so easy to point out what is wrong with schools like mine, but here is a bright spot: Any NU student can take a class where each day is spent watching and assisting people who bring smiles to another person’s day.
Give up your time for these amazing special needs folks on campus. You will never regret it.
In the end, you and your education will be much richer.
Logan Martinez is a member of Nevada Union High School’s graduated class of 2014.