Over the years I have noticed there is a fine line between being an outcast and being socially accepted. The poor souls of society know this better than anyone but the teachers see it everyday. The students who struggle with physical or mental limitations are often walking that line of being shunned and ridiculed or becoming a part of their community and becoming an inspiration for overcoming limitations.
For every story of the girl with down syndrome becoming homecoming queen there are five girls just like her that are invisible in their community.
I am lucky enough to teach in a community where children have overcome tremendous challenges to become a hero in their school. Chances are, your school is a similar community.
The Story of Jack
In my Sociology class I use the story of an outcast turned hero, Jack Burleson, to teach a concept of examining social norms from a qualitative case-study perspective. Jack was made fun of and shunned through out school. He had no friends and he was picked on for his disorder, orofaciodigital yndrome (OFD). Jack’s brother, Alex, also suffers from OFD and Alex found that track helped him to feel good about himself. Alex hoped that track would help Jack. It did.
In Jack’s senior year, with the help of his coaches and teammates, he was able to become a true hero. Jack was able to step over that line of being unaccepted for his limitations to being celebrated as a true inspiration.
Teachers, there are students in your school who are right now where Jack was before track. The Jack Burleson’s of the world cannot overcome the challenges alone.