The memory is blurred when it comes time to remember the exact moment when you decided to become a teacher. “Too early”, you are sure. Cristina Simões, 46, a native of Tondela, grew up surrounded by her younger siblings, cousins and “children of some neighbors, whose parents had to spend the day in agriculture”, taking care of them all. What for most would be seen as a burden, for her was the seething of a life mission that sprang up while she was still a student in elementary school, when she realized that Special Education should be her way. Cristina was willing to make a difference in the lives of the most unprotected, through the classroom, and that has now earned her a place among the 50 finalists in the Global Teacher Prize, an international award that defines the best teacher of the year worldwide. It is the only Portuguese name on the list for what is known as the Education Nobel.
“When I try to make a return to my childhood and understand why, I remember that in my 1st cycle class I had a colleague with intellectual difficulties. At the time, she was treated differently. She was very big, completely out of step of our age and that was reason enough to be ridiculed by everyone in those times. I remember her wearing donkey ears and everyone walking behind her while I tried to defend her “, she tells DN. An experience that would define the career of almost 30 years of this teacher who adopts in her classroom an innovative method for all students who depend on Special Education. “I was privileged to have someone with a disability in my classroom”, do not hesitate to say.