‘I believe that the support that I got from my disability encouraged me to support others.’
“When I was born, I was a big baby. Like 9 pounds. And the doctors at that time, they used forceps. The doctor, instead of pulling my neck, he pulled my arm, and he damaged the nerves in my right arm. So, I’ve lived with Erb’s palsy all my life. It is technically a handicap, but I never thought of it that way. My parents never put that in my head. My father was a strong African American man. He served in the army. He was a Suffolk County police officer. He always told me that I can do whatever I wanted to. Between him and my mom, they never put limitations on me. I would ride bikes with my brother and climb trees.
“I am a teaching assistant. I’ve been there for 23 years. But a lot of the wonderful teachers that I work with, they’ve always said, ‘You’re the teacher, go ahead, do your thing.’ But I owe my teaching experience from my sister. She’s my oldest sister. She was very protective. And it was always a teaching moment in the house. I think it was destined for her to be a teacher before she became a teacher. If you said something wrong, she’d correct the grammar or something like that. It’s like a lot of things that I have learned watching her, I put it into the children.
She always told the kids, ‘You are Kings and Queens. You can do whatever you want to do, you just have to put your mind to it.’ The same things she used to tell me when I was little.
“She was a kindergarten teacher at the school that I presently work at. She always told the kids, ‘You are Kings and Queens. You can do whatever you want to do, you just have to put your mind to it.’ The same things she used to tell me when I was little. She was a gem. The school that I work at, she went from being a teacher to an assistant principal. When she passed away, she was the assistant principal. And we have a garden at the school for her. She’s there with me every day. She just touched so many lives.
“I believe that the support that I got from my disability encouraged me to support others. It pushes me to say, ‘I did it with support. I’m putting good out there. You can do the same thing. You can better yourself.’ And that’s what I got from my dad. That’s what I got from my sister. Always striving to go to the next level. And I think it’s all divinely carved for me.”