A woman in Argentina is the first person with Down syndrome to become a teacher in Latin America (video below).
Noelia Garella, teaches early-learning reading class to 2- and 3-year-olds at the Jermonito nursery in Cordoba, Argentina, reports the Daily Mail.
Down syndrome is “a set of cognitive and physical symptoms that result from having an extra chromosome 21 or an extra piece of that chromosome,” as defined by the National Institutes of Health. “It is the most common chromosomal cause of mild to moderate intellectual disabilities. People with Down syndrome also have some distinct physical features, such as a flat-looking face, and they are at risk for a number of other health conditions.”
Garella, 31, said her love of children had driven her to become a teacher since childhood.
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“Ever since I was little, I have always wanted to be a teacher, because I like children so much," she said. "I want them to read and listen, because in society people have to listen to one another ... I have a boy with Down syndrome in my class. He is wonderful. Oh, it is lovely when someone like me is born.”
“There were people in positions of responsibility who were convinced that it wasn't possible for a teacher with Down syndrome to actually teach," Alejandra Senestrari, who was the first to hire Garella as a teacher, told Agence France-Presse. “We very quickly realized that she had a strong vocation. She gave what the children in the nursery classes most appreciate, which is love.”
Susana Zerdan, the preschool director where Garella works, said her example should be a lesson to everyone. “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.”
Garella’s mother, Mercedes Cabrera, remembers the time when a school director said her daughter could not work as a teacher because she was a "monster," reports The Independent.
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“That teacher is like a story that I read to the children,” Garella says. “She is a sad monster, who knows nothing and gets things wrong. I am the happy monster.”