by Ethan Glass
In August my TAP fellows and I went through a week of intense training preparing for the coming school year. I was so relieved when it was over, but also excited to get to work. To be honest I was a little nervous my first day in the classroom. I had surgery on my knee the week before and I wasn’t sure if I was capable of preforming some of the tasks that were required of me. Luckily for me, my class and my teacher were very welcoming into their community. As I first took a glance around the classroom I was confused. It didn’t appear to me that anyone needed extra help or had special needs. It just seemed to me that there were twenty religious school students that had so much energy, they couldn’t keep their mouths shut. I felt that all of this training went to waste. It felt like I wasn’t needed. But that eventually changed.
I grew close to a student that others perceived as a “troublemaker” in the class. This student is often not very passionate about waking up early on a Sunday morning and participating in class. I soon became aware of my purpose in the classroom – to make sure everyone felt included and had a positive religious school experience. If that meant taking a break and going on a walk, sitting in silence in the office to get away from the noise, or just taking time to spend a little extra time with my new friend – I was prepared. I also realized that one doesn’t have to be “diagnosed” with a disability to need a little bit of extra help. This fellowship has opened my eyes to the world. It has showed me that everyone is running in the same race. Some move slow and some move fast, but that’s just alright. What matters in that everyone finishes together.
Ethan Glass is a teen assistant at Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel.