Teacher Stories: Christina Moscatello, North Plainfield, West End Elementary School, K-4th Library Technology
“I grew up with a disabled brother. I originally was a special ed. teacher, and my brother was what motivated me to become a teacher. He is two years younger than me. It is a severe cognitive disability. It is genetic. Even though he is 37 years old right now, cognitively he is like a toddler. I did think I was going to work in his school for my career, too, but somehow I fell into the public school system; but I don’t regret any of it.
Growing up, I always felt like I needed to be the good child, because I didn’t want to put any more burden on parents, because they had a lot to deal with with my brother. He was never independent, so it was hard for them. I remember there would be kids that would look and stare at him, and maybe even be a little bit afraid of him, but it never really fazed me. I don’t remember a time in my life without him. But he has really shaped me in becoming who I am. I am a very empathetic person and I think that comes from growing up with my brother.
None of the kids I worked with through the years were as severe as my brother. I always felt like I wanted to connect with the families as well, because I could understand them at some level. I mean every family situation is different, but I knew I could connect with them on the level of what it is like to have someone in your family who has a disability.
With what I do now with library technology, I have students who come in who are special needs. It is hard for me, because when I was a special ed. teacher, I could really focus on the needs of the five or six students that were in the room. Now that I am teaching on my own, it is the balance of meeting the needs of the whole class and still getting to those five or six that need extra support. I have had my administrators thank me for adding modifications in that other teachers may not have thought of, but come naturally for me, and that is my special education background coming through.
My brother is doing really well. He is going to an adult program in the daytime, and lives at home. He enjoys Disney movies and Barney, and at the end of the day he is really happy, and that is all that matters.”
- Interview and photo by Gregory Andrus
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