Throughout my four years in the ECS program, each of my field placements was a valuable learning experience. In second year, I was placed at Centennial Infant and Child Centre… little did I know that this placement would change my life!
While I always wanted to work with children, I had never thought about working specifically in the area of special needs. If you have never been to Centennial, the first day can be extremely overwhelming. It is a reverse integration preschool setting, meaning that there are more children with special needs than typically developing children. For each child with a special need, there is an assigned volunteer to provide them with additional support. The minute the program began and children started arriving, the joy and positivity left me in awe. While there was a range of children with a variety of different diagnoses, the program ran seamlessly regardless of the complex array of needs of each child. Going to placement was the highlight of each week that semester because there was so much to learn, and so many people to learn from, including volunteers, a physiotherapist, occupational therapist, and speech-language pathologist in addition to the teaching staff.
I could not bear to leave the centre even after my placement was complete, so I continued to volunteer 3 hours weekly to stay involved as a one-on-one volunteer. It was absolutely astounding to watch the children’s growth over time and it was an added joy to see the attachment the child made to their different weekly volunteers. What a rewarding experience!
Two years later upon completing my degree, given my experiences and dedication, the centre manager hired me to join their staff team as a Resource Teacher. Ryerson had provided me with such great opportunities that I was able to get a jump-start on my career! At Ryerson, I was exposed to practical tools to develop inclusive practices, the precision to make detailed observations, and the necessary expertise to create appropriate program plans. To top it all off, I have even begun my journey as a field educator hoping to inspire current students to develop a passion for special needs.