Stories from the Field
Edited By David J. Connor and Beth A. Ferri
19. Journey as a Special Education Teacher of Color with Dis/abilities
SAILI S. KULKARNI
After what seemed like a never-ending roller coaster of three different majors and two almost-minors, I graduated from my undergraduate program at Boston University with a Psychology degree. After failing Advanced Biology, I bounced around from the humanities to the social sciences before determining I was a generalist rather than a specialist. Racked with the guilt of having my dedicated parents shell out far too much financial support for my tuition, I spent my last few semesters trying to undo the damage of a low grade-point average (GPA). In the last few semesters, I became involved in a few research projects: one that focused on structured interviews and surveys of free care patients at the Boston Medical Center regarding their experiences of trauma, substance abuse, intimate partner violence; and another that looked at how children develop language skills. Despite these experiences, my undergraduate advisor recommended I take a few years off to support my devastatingly low GPA with some practical experiences. He also said he did not believe I was “graduate school material.” Heeding his advice, at least partially, I began to apply for Teach for America (TFA) and fellowships to become a fast-track teacher.
I applied for four specific urban school programs, some through the Teaching Fellows (The New Teacher Project) and some through TFA. After a few months of applications, I received an acceptance letter to the Oakland Teaching Fellows Program and a picture drawn by an elementary school student who...
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