My Life as a Career Development Student
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My Life as a Career Development Student

The following is a special needs program update from College Living Experience | CLE | Choose Your Future. You may also click here to read the original article on the program’s website.

By Andrew Adler, CLE Ft. Lauderdale Student

Andrew Adler CLE DavieMany students, including myself, come to CLE without any self-esteem. We can’t look straight ahead because we are so used to looking down and feeling awful, unimportant, and useless. The memories of our school years being bullied, taunted, and battered are planted in our memory. We let those bullies win because we didn’t know what else to do. For me, I left school extremely down and went home only to be made to feel the same way. I never heard any compliments. No matter how hard I tried; no matter what I did, it was wrong. And, the worst mistake I made was to allow others to do this. I learned to chalk it up to being immature and not knowing how to handle any of these situations.

I graduated high school and felt I still had to prove myself to others – another mistake to think I had to prove myself! I enrolled in college and earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology. After receiving my degree, I realized that I had something upstairs to allow me to be successful. I was 27 years old, with a college degree, but still felt unworthy!

Then I remembered CLE and how they helped me through college. I remembered the support and caring from everyone at CLE Davie and I thought the best thing I could do was return and see if someone could help me find my way. This was the best decision I ever made. I received my schedule and met with Art Rose, Career Development Instructor the next week. That first day was the beginning of my new life.

After my career assessment, Art talked to me and explained the findings. He made me feel extremely comfortable and I shared my entire story with him. He told me that he would make sure I am able to walk around smiling, rather than feeling sorry for myself. Art asked me if I had any idea of what I wanted to do. I really didn’t know and asked him for suggestions. He asked me if I like to work with young children. I shared that I volunteered at a school with 4-5 year olds. art picBefore I knew it, Art picked up the phone and called the principal. You see, Art retired from the School District of Broward County, and he knows a lot of people. He heard positive comments about my work; heard about the reading groups I taught; and was informed that I even was able to do arts and crafts with the children. Art hung up, looked at me, and said, “Young man; that is your future career!”

I still wasn’t comfortable and completely sure of myself, so I told Art that I just wanted to volunteer again until I felt that I was doing a good job. Art told me that we would do this in steps. He suggested I volunteer first, and then perhaps seek a job as an assistant teacher. After some years as an assistant, I would probably be comfortable enough to have my own class.

After working with Art, my next steps led me to Davie Elementary School and Principal Bob Schneider. Principal Schneider was interested in the possibility of me volunteering in the Head Start class two days a week for the entire day. Head Start is a government-funded program for 3-5 year old children with the purpose of getting them ready for kindergarten. I called Mrs. Kriner, the classroom teacher, and she set up a time when I could meet her. She seemed very pleasant and told me that she would enjoy having me in her class.

Good morning Mr. Adler!

On Monday of the following week, I walked into the class and 19 children were busy at various centers. Mrs. Kriner asked the children to stop what they were doing as she wanted to introduce me. “Class, this is Mr. Adler, and he is going to help us. Please welcome him to the class.” In unison, I got a big welcome from them. “Good morning, Mr. Adler, it is so nice to meet you.” Wow, this was the first time I heard that people were happy to meet me – and 19 of them at one time who were only 4-5 years old! This was the beginning of my new life. It was like I was reborn. I was finally somebody!

I met with Art the next day and couldn’t stop smiling. He was so happy for me and we spent a little while just chatting. At the end of our chat, Art summed it up. “Andrew, you enjoy working with this age group because you are responsible for getting them ready for kindergarten. But, I want to say something, not to upset you, but to get you to think about something. Are you enjoying this because it’s like the childhood you never had and wished you had?”

Art was 100% right and I appreciate the support he gives me. I love this age group because I’m able to give them what I never got. I’m able to help children succeed and let them know when they do a good job. I’m able to see smiles and appreciation. I’m able to get “pinky shakes” and “high-fives” from them when they learn something new. And, I’m able to feel that I finally am something and someone!

What are my goals?

I will continue volunteering through the end of this school term. For the summer months, I will apply to be an assistant and earn my first paycheck! There is a school in Broward County that has 12 head start classes during the summer. I have already received my certification in Early Childhood from McFatter Technical Center and this qualifies me to be an assistant to the teacher. After a few years of being an assistant, I want to have my own class. I will take college courses to earn my degree in Early Childhood Education and then have the credentials needed.

My life is now the best it has ever been. After many years, I found myself thanks to CLE and the patience and honesty Art gives me. Now when I look in the mirror, I’m happy with the person looking back at me!

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