A woman with Down Syndrome in Argentina becomes the first pre-school teacher (first case in Latin America)

Written by Erika Petrie

July 14, 2020

Four years ago, Noellia Garella, an argentine woman with Down Syndrome, who herself had been discriminated against and was called ‘a monster’ at school, became the very first woman to be accepted as a pre-school teacher. She was initially met with a great deal of opposition, but was so loved by the children and some of the staff at the school, that even the parents started to love her and realise how beneficial her childlike approach was, to the point that even the local major rallied round in her support.

Noellia is passionate about what she does and about really supporting these children in literacy and reading and they find they can really relate to her. She states ‘ this is something I have wanted ever since I was little…my dream was always to become a teacher because I love children so much’. She likes to encourage them to read and listen to each other because she knows this will be a useful life skill in society where people are required to listen to each other, as well as make their voice heard.

Noellia originally started out as an assistant at a nursery, but her tenacity and determination led to her being hired by a preschool on the outskirts of Cordoba, where she started teaching early reading classes. Her patience and love of the children have made her an ideal candidate for the role and children respond very well to her, given her loving and child-like approach, which also makes them feel cared for and at ease with her. Her natural disposition and vocation for this role even won over those that were initially opposed to her being a teacher in the first place.

Noellia has been able to turn the negative experience of her being discriminated against in her early school days into a positive: ‘that teacher who called me a monster is like the ‘sad monster’ who get things wrong, whereas I am ‘the happy monster’…’it is like a story that I tell the children in my class’, she adds. Fellow colleagues and teachers have said that the way she has been accepted so whole-heartedly by the children into the school, has been a valuable lesson for all of them, and this speaks volumes also in terms of inclusion and diversity as well. She dreams one day of having a family and children of her own and without a doubt, I think you’ll agree, she will make a wonderful mother!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *