Senior enjoys her fifth year teaching special needs children

Senior enjoys her fifth year teaching special needs children

“We could totally use your help.” 

“I don’t know…” 

“Please? We’re understaffed and really need someone else to help out.”

“Okay, fine, I’ll help.”

And so it began.

At the age of thirteen, senior Saira Sundrani was recruited by a friend to help teach special needs kids at her church. Although originally unsure of her decision, Saira quickly grew to love her job.

“Initially … I didn’t know how to talk to them,” Saira said. “But with time I’ve realized that they’re people just like [us]. It’s a blessing to work with them, and now I go in five years later and laugh at the fact that I was scared of something that really is a fun job and so fulfilling.”

Over the course of five years, Saira’s family and friends have had the opportunity to witness how teaching children with special needs has helped shape her personality.

“I think working with special needs kids at church has helped Saira unlock the compassion that we always knew was within her,” said Sana Sundrani, Saira’s older sister. “She has become a patient and dedicated individual who takes an immense amount of pride in the work she does, and is heavily invested in the total well being of her students and their families.”

While Saira may be the teacher, she isn’t the only one teaching. She says she has learned a great deal from her students.

“I feel so incredibly blessed to work with these students,” Saira said. “They taught me that life is about smiling and being happy, because life is too short to count your shortcomings.”

Saira plans to attend college at the University of Texas at Arlington in the fall, and continue working with her students.

“I definitely want to keep volunteering and teaching at my church and helping these individuals grow with everything they do,” Saira said.

She hopes to major in Music Education, and believes that her experience with teaching special needs will help her to one day start a choir for special needs children.

“Saira’s compassion comes from the values that were instilled in all of us as we were growing up,” Sana said. “I think I speak for all of her family and loved ones when I say that we are incredibly proud of Saira for the responsibility she has undertaken with these children. With her compassion and dedication, her students have made and continue to make immense strides that may not have been possible without her.”