Đề bài: 

Admitted to New York University

When I first met Ethan, I was fifteen. He was ten. I remember him mightily pushing open the heavy doors and announcing in a loud voice that he had arrived. His appearance took me off guard; he had a gawky, he , uncoordinated body, a crooked smile filled with different colored braces, and bulky brown glasses, he even had a . Rarely did anyone enter Score!, the learning center for children where I had recently begun working, with such enthusiasm. I wondered why none of my co-workers seemed to notice. After all, Ethan wasn't the typical embarrassed child, forced to come by his parents. As a sophomore in high school, I did not have any experience teaching kids with special needs. Ethan was my first exposure to and initially it was hard not to get frustrated with him; he was loud, clumsy, and disruptive. Occasionally he would get so out of hand that his parents would need to be contacted about. Once when he got a good mark on his spelling unit, he leapt out of his seat and began loudly celebrating, only to be met with looks of disapproval from the other employees. But when his parents came, also shaking their heads at him, he refused to leave before he had completed his lessons.

One day Ethan confided in me that he got picked on a lot. "It's because I have a little stutter," he explained in a meek voice. Immediately I knew that this was one of those sensitive moments where it is incumbent on the adult to say just the right thing to make the child feel better. It's the type of thing that's not so hard if you're a psychologist in practice twenty years. But since I lacked the degree and the years, I just said the first thing that came to mind. "Everyone?tutters." He looked up at me. "Not really. That's that what I meant to say. I mean that everyone has something about them that seems weird to other people." Uy. Was I making him feel worse? "You're smarter than them anyway," I added, trying to look at him encouragingly. In response, he only muttered "okay" and continued to fidget with the computer keyboard.

There were many similar moments in the eight months I worked with Ethan, times when I could only guess at the proper way to handle the situation. These are the instances that stand out in my mind, more so than the obvious successes and failures. These "lessons for the teacher" as my supervisor used to jokingly call them, all had two things in common: first, none of them involved math, and second, they left me feeling very confused. My most valuable lessons actually occurred in the pizza parlor next door to Score!, where Ethan and I sometimes met before his appointment. There I got to know him for who he truly was: a tuba player, a coin collector, a lover of pizza-not a list of psychological ailments on a piece of paper.

To most people, Ethan's last appearance at Score! Resembled his first almost exactly. A little figure could be seen pushing open the large glass doors, excitement in his voice as he called out my name. But I no longer saw an awkward, clumsy child; instead, I saw a friend, a unique person whose life had touched mine for a brief, but important moment.

(Written by Nora Becker)