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Reviewed by Jon Michael Miller for Readers' Favorite
Once There Was a Child by Darlene Pscheidell Kwarta is a heartbreaking yet inspiring account of Ms. Kwarta’s experience as a teacher of severely handicapped and abused children. She was motivated to enter this challenging profession, she says, by such works as The Miracle Worker, and Teacher, Teacher. She describes her experience years later as a place of peace and laughter, not the kind of place most people would imagine. She had a class of eight kids, age 16 or so, along with her fellow professionals and assistants, in particular, “the Big Guy,” the principal of the all-inclusive high school. But especially we meet the kids—Jackson, Autumn, Kat, Jazz, Jacob, among others. They are all deaf with added issues included, and with warmth and humor, she describes their daily school “catastrophes” as well as their outings to the woods and to local businesses.
As a lifelong teacher of mainline students, I observed the work of special-needs colleagues, and I so admired their caring and patience which are beautifully unveiled in Ms. Kwarta’s charming and delightful memoir of her experiences. She presents not only the kids (who automatically read maps, fear escalators, and know all about ancient Egypt) but their parents (not always good) and co-workers. She would substitute the adage “It takes a village” with “It takes a school,” her school having sadly broken up due to population issues. There Was a Child by Darlene Pscheidell Kwarta will inform you of a group of heroes working every day to help special needs children, and it will warm your heart.