As a child, I exhibited bizarre actions such as neck thrusting, facial grimacing, eye blinking, barking, and screaming, which caused me to be ostracized in school. I got in many fistfights, had poor grades, and was suspended from school frequently. In short, I was a teacher's worst nightmare. Despite this, I was fortunate to have some very caring educators who inspired me to do my best in everything I did.
When I was 17, my father took me to a neurologist who diagnosed me with Tourette's syndrome. Although we finally had an answer for my behavior, this was just the first chapter of my journey with a disability.
After barely graduating high school, I was admitted into college on a probationary status. Every day was a battle with my Tourette's symptoms and the side effects of medications. A brain injury in 2000 also caused me to develop a significant stutter that made communicating with others exasperating. But I overcame these challenges and earned a BA in English.
As I considered where I wanted to go from there, I thought about the people who made a positive impact on my life growing up; the answer was easy — educators. So, I decided to pursue an MA in Special Education, which I completed in 2005.
I began teaching special education in 2008 and quickly became known as “Mr. C” to my students. I fell madly in love with teaching and realized that my disability served as a bridge with my students. They realized that "Mr. C." was "different", so they were able to identify with me in a unique way.
My passion for teaching kids with disabilities has inspired me to share my story of triumph and success, as well as the poignant anecdotes and life lessons I have experienced with my students. Through poetry, memoir, and humor, I prove that anyone can conquer any challenge with a positive attitude, hard work, and determination.
Today, I am a published author, a motivational speaker, and a disability advocate. It’s been a long journey from being the teacher’s worst nightmare to becoming a success story they can be proud of, but it’s taught me so much about myself and life that I can now share with others.