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White benefits from Dobson’s class

Tuesday, February 5, 2008  
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By Jacey Jacobs

It is rare to find a student whose life has been completely changed by a class, but freshman Jena White is an exception.

Last semester, White was in Max Dobson's class, teaching the disabled child. Taking the class opened her eyes, and because of the class, an opportunity to make an impact presented itself.

During the semester, a couple of parents came to Dobson looking for someone to teach their children swim lessons. He knew White was a lifeguard, and she agreed to teach the lessons.

"The swim lessons are more like private lessons," White said. "All the kids swim together but in their own lane. They are all unique and swim at their own pace. They are so good."

Every Tuesday and Thursday morning from 9:30 to 10:30, White meets with two or three boys and their parents at the Oklahoma Christian University pool for the lessons.

"We swim and do different activities to work out," White said. "Technically, it's not swim lessons. I'm more of an encourager, sharpening their skills and helping them get a work out."

Through her job, White has grown to love and respect the children she works with.

"This job has really been a privilege and blessing to me," White said. "I don't think of these kids as disabled because I don't see their disabilities."

Teaching the class makes White feel like she is making a difference.

White has learned multiple, valuable lessons through this experience and more importantly, through the children she will never forget.

"I have learned that they look past the surface and see who you really are and love you for that," White said. "I think we can all learn that from them. They are always happy."

White strongly believes people should look beyond the exterior before judging someone, especially children.

"I don't like the terms 'disabled' or 'retarded.' Most people shy away from looking at who they really are and won't look past their disabilities," White said.  "I have learned to look past people's differences and look at somebody's heart before looking at their disabilities or flaws, whether it be in personality or physical flaws."

The class has also impacted junior Katie Clayton's life in a monumental way.

"This class was one of my all-time favorite classes," Clayton said. "Just being able to come and play with these wonderful kids is amazing. They teach you so much about life and love. It's just incredible."
Clayton also agrees with White's position on looking beyond the surface.

"I believe that someone can miss out on so much if they don't look at who the person really is. These children combat this issue everyday, and it's refreshing to see their always smiling faces," Clayton said. "They don't let the world get to them, and it's a beautiful thing."

White doesn't consider teaching the swim lessons a job. To her, it's just playing with these kids and loving on them. Her humility is unmistakable.

"People think of my job and wonder how I do it, but really, they are awesome and make you feel special," White said.

Not only do the children look up to White, but White also looks up to the children.

"They have taught me more then I have taught them about life in general, and they give back to me more than I give to them," White said. "We can all learn from them. They are just normal, great kids."


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