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Published:September 30th, 2012 09:35 EST
Bob Danielson:  "gOLD" Nuggets: On Learning and Education

Bob Danielson: "gOLD" Nuggets: On Learning and Education

By Harry J. Getzov

Bob Danielson (75) - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

bobdaniel_1 "We`re gonna reach this child!"
"When I was quite young, for some reason I always had an interest in handicapped people, the blind, the deaf," Bob explained. " I was sort of intrigued by their challenges and thought, `Gee, if I ever become a teacher, I can help those people.`"

Sure enough, after starting out as a fourth-grade teacher, Bob was presented with an opportunity and he shifted into what he knew was his field. When I visited with Bob, he talked about his experiences as a special-education teacher, supervisor and trainer, having mentored dozens of young people who also became teachers in special education. "Full dedication" is the phrase that kept coming up, and it was clear that Bob was passionate about this work and the people whose lives he had touched over his long career.

"I felt special education was an area that had been neglected for hundreds of years, and it was time for that segment of society to get some attention. And it`s not for everyone. I almost feel that it`s like having a gift, like singing or dancing. Some people are gifted to get into that field and I would encourage them to do that, but only if they have that gift. There have been some people I`ve told not to go into special education, people who weren`t sensitive enough to the needs of those children. They were too harsh with them; they really didn`t understand them. Again, it`s not for everyone. It`s tough, let me tell you.

You go to school five days a week and the other two days you`re preparing, worrying and getting ready for the five other days. You`re handling things in your mind, so it`s full dedication. I almost felt like I was a member of a religious group or something like that. I worked year-round at the job. Even during the summers, if I wasn`t teaching summer school, I was already thinking ahead for fall. It was, as I said, full dedication.

In terms of the children, the actual teaching, I had higher goals than many people. Other educators, or sometimes even the parents, would say, `Oh, he or she could never do that.` I said, `We`ll see,` and I set higher standards that way. I would go beyond what people believed could happen. If a child couldn`t walk, I said, `This child`s gonna walk.` If a child couldn`t read, I said, `This child`s gonna read.` And we would do it. I would prove to the child, myself, the parents -- to everybody -- that, "This child . . . there`s more here than you realize. We`re gonna reach this child.` And many times, we would succeed.

"I can`t tell you how fantastic that felt."

Harry J. Getzov is the founder of Eldercation -- an organization committed to changing the way our culture views aging and older people. He is also the author of the award-winning book, "gOLD" - The Extraordinary Side of Aging Revealed Through Inspiring Conversations. €"Follow Eldercation on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and check out Harry`s blog,€" Taking The Scenic Route."