Noelia Garella made her dream come true: At 31, she is now a nursery school teacher–and she’s the first nursery school teacher with Down syndrome in Argentina. As a child, she was called a “monster,” but now she’s helping children grow and learn.
Recently, Garella told AFP how she wanted to be a teacher since she was a child herself:
“I adore this. Ever since I was little, I have always wanted to be a teacher, because I like children so much. I want them to read and listen, because in society people have to listen to one another.”
Garella’s determination to achieve her lifelong dream is inspiring to everyone around her–although her hire has not been without criticism. For instance, someone “in a position of responsibility” felt she wasn’t in a position to teacher because of her condition, according to Alejandra Senestrari, the former director of the school in the northern city of Cordoba who hired Garella, who stated:
“With time, even those who had been opposed joined in the initiative to hire Noe as a teacher. We very quickly realized that she had a strong vocation. She gave what the children in the nursery classes most appreciate, which is love.”
Despite all of this, Garella remains optimistic, making a wonderful analogy about her situation:
“That teacher is like a story that I read to the children. She is a sad monster, who knows nothing and gets things wrong. I am the happy monster.”
Susana Zerdan, current director of the preschool, has stated that it’s been a learning experience for both the staff and students:
“It has been a unique experience for the staff. The way the children accept her, incorporating her naturally into the school – there is a lesson in life there for us all.”
In a time where there is much discrimination in regards to people with disabilities and special needs, this story is not only monumental, but life changing for everyone. Since January, Garella has been co-teaching with another teacher.
What’s even more heartwarming about her story is the fact that she is also the teacher of a boy with Down syndrome–which gives him someone to look up to and emulate. She described how it’s made her feel connected:
“I have a boy with Down syndrome in my class. He is wonderful. Oh, it is lovely when someone like me is born.”
Besides teaching, Garella loves Latin dancing, wants to have children of own, and has “met someone.” I sincerely hope she is able to make all of her dreams come true–and I think she will–she’s truly a beacon of optimism and hope.