She Was Once Called 'Monster.' Now She's a Trailblazer

Noelia Garella is breaking stereotypes by teaching preschool in Argentina
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 1, 2016 8:37 AM CDT

A woman once called a "monster" when her parents tried to enroll her in nursery school has just achieved a longtime dream: running her own nursery school class in Argentina as Latin America's first teacher with Down syndrome, Mother Nature Network reports. Noelia Garella, 31, who teaches an early-reading class to 2- and 3-year-olds in Cordoba, tells the Metro that she'd harbored the teaching bug "since I was little," a desire that was encouraged by her parents and by other Cordoba teachers, parents, and the city's mayor. "We very quickly realized that she had a strong vocation," says Alejandra Senestrari, the woman who used to run the school where Garella now works. "She gave what the children in the nursery classes most appreciate, which is love."

But, as Inside Edition puts it, the job "didn't come without controversy" for Garella, who started teaching at the school as a reading assistant in 2012. According to Senestrari, there was a person "in a position of responsibility" who didn't want Garella put in charge of her own classroom, the National reports. But Senestrari says even those opposed to Garella's drive to become a teacher were eventually won over once they saw her dedication, her positive attitude, and her belief in herself. "The way the children accept her … there is a lesson in life there for us all," says the current director. There's even a little boy in Garella's class, which she runs with another teacher, who has Down syndrome. "He is wonderful," Garella says. "Oh, it is lovely when someone like me is born." (A couple with Down syndrome wants to get married—but their parents are wary.)

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