My name is Áine Lawlor and I am 28 years old. I did a course in Killester College. I did a Special Needs Assistant (SNA) course for two years. The course was a year-long, but they let me do it over two years, so the pressure was taken off me that way. Also I got a disability worker to help me. She helped me with my assignments and the homework that I got. The assignments were tough, so I needed someone to sit down with me and break the assignments down bit by bit. Once I did that I flew along with the work. It was pretty intense work and I wanted to throw assignments out the fecking window. But yeah, I did not give up and I kept going.
My friends and my family were a huge support to me when I felt down or depressed about my work, they stood by me. There would be days when I did not want to go to college at all, but I did so. The only thing that kept me going was the vision in my head: I would walk into the head teacher’s office in St Michael’s House School and she would give me a job. I kept that rolling around in my head and that’s how I kept going through the tough days, for all I ever wanted to be is an SNA in the school. I would be the first to ever attend there and to work there. I would be making history. So I got work experience up in the school during those two years ad it was my favourite day of the week. The schoolkids were the only things that kept me going. If I was tired or stressed out about college they would cheer me up when I went in to help. In the end I stuck with college and I passed the SNA course. I got merits and passes.
On my last day of work experience I asked the head teacher if there were any jobs out there for me to take. She said no, but she could put me on the sub list. (That means if someone is out sick I can fill in.)
The one question that I was asked in the interview was why do you want to work here? I said because I can relate to the children and I can help them in every way. I think that is how I got the job. So that is what I did after the exams. I was so excited for myself as I would be working in the school that I attended and now I am an SNA teacher assistant. I could not believe it when I was told that I would be working in the school. That was one of the highlights of my life. All the hard work that I put into the course was all worthwhile. All the dreams have come through and I feel so happy as I walk through the school doors. I take a deep breath and I say to myself- ‘I made it, I am here and now I am an SNA teacher assistant.’ It felt great to hear myself say that.
One day in work a queen from Africa came to visit the school. Lisa came into the classroom and said this is Áine Lawlor who used to go to school here, trained here as an SNA and now is an SNA and working for us. Well, something happened to me as I sat with the kids that day. A happy feeling came over me. It was like a blood rush. It went through my body and I felt so happy. That was another highlight of the day. I remember feeling nervous and not knowing if I will be as good as I was when I was doing the work experience, but I had nothing to fear. I learned a lot from those two years. I thought being an SNA the job would be a little easier. I thought wrong, but I am glad that I was able to think to myself that I am good. I am like the other teachers and I am like everyone else in the school.
I just want to be there to help the children. The head teacher saw that in me and she saw how good I was and that is why she took me on. I am ever so glad she did. I love going to the school and working with the kids. They are the reason I get up every morning and that is the best feeling ever. I do hope there will be a lot of working days where the kids can teach me and I can teach them. Up in the school I am treated well and I love that. I also work with teachers who are still there from when I was in the school. So it is a wonderful chance to work with them.
I am Áine Lawlor who has a disability and I don’t let that disability get in my way of life. I think positive and not negative. I think forwards, not backwards. I just have a different way of living life than other people do. I am not letting it get in the way. I am Áine Lawlor. When I have a goal or a dream I go for it.