When Liberty Christian School 5th grade teacher Kristi Hovanetz announced an optional extra credit writing contest last semester, student Reeves Baller seized the opportunity, writing about how he’d like to make the world a better place when he grows up.
The international competition, sponsored by the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW), received more than 200 entries. By winning second, Reeves was awarded $50, and Mrs. Hovanetz was given a $50 gift certificate with IEW.
IEW seeks to equip students of all ages and all levels of ability, including those with special needs and English language learners, to build written and oral communication skills and improve critical thinking.
Here is Reeves Baller’s winning essay:
Have you ever wondered what you want to do with your life when you grow up? I certainly have! As President Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” I want to work with special needs kids by helping them become more successful in life.
When I was four years old, I was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). SPD is the way the nervous system receives sensory messages like hearing, touching, seeing, smelling and tasting. I did occupational therapy at the Baylor House for a year. During this time, I met lots of kids who were like me. Some were more severe than me and some were milder than me, but we all had special differences. Being through this experience has helped me develop a love and compassion for special needs kids.
Last year, I had several things happen where I thought God was calling me to work with special needs kids. I watched a movie called Radio. It is about a mentally challenged young man who wants to be part of a football program. The football players are cruel and lock him in a shed. I cried and could hardly watch the movie because he was mistreated. I also saw a special needs boy walking down the road. He was hobbling with a limp. Lastly, I met a special needs person working at Taco Bell. He was working in the back but had a big smile.
People tell me I am different because when I see a person with special needs, I don’t just sit back, stare or whisper. I walk right up to them and want to know if they were born that way or if something happened to them. Being with these kids brightens my day. I think I can help them but in turn they will brighten my day. This is work worth doing.