By Hilary Rubin
The experience that the TAP program has given me is one that I will certainly never forget. It has been incredibly meaningful and I have learned so much in so little time! At my synagogue, Or Hadash, I have been working in the Gan (kindergarten) class for 4 years now, but TAP allowed me to work there with a new perspective. Even though there are no Gan students with diagnosed special needs and/or disabilities that I am aware of, TAP has still taught me a lot about how to work with kids and help them learn. I now know how to settle arguments that occur, keep children entertained while learning, and maintain a calm, positive attitude. This training has allowed me to build stronger relationships with my students, creating a more fun learning environment for both the children and me.
Throughout the program, we discussed many different types of disabilities and how they affect how children learn. TAP has also allowed me to see the world through the eyes of a child with a learning disability. I realize now that children with learning disabilities are just like anyone else, they just might need an extra helping hand. They want to be heard just like any other child. Our job is to help make sure that these kids get the help that they need while allowing them to have fun and learn at the same time. Because of my impactful experience with TAP, I have been inspired to start volunteering with Friendship Circle, a program that pairs teenage volunteers with children with special needs of all ages. Though this has only been my first year with that program, I have had such a positive experience with it. It has shown me that anyone can become friends, no matter what challenges people face. I hope to continue to participate in Friendship Circle in the years to come. I have learned so much in my time at TAP, and I hope that I will be able to continue to demonstrate the Jewish values this program has taught me throughout my life.