I'm a 6th grade teacher. A teacher is defined as someone who teaches or instructs but I see myself as doing more than that. I listen, heal, guide, mentor, and learn myself. The students look to me for guidance and support. But there are days where I look to them just as much.

They all know I'm a Type 1 diabetic. Some know what diabetes is, some don't. I try to use it as a teaching moment but I don't like to spend a lot of time discussing it with them. But on the day my new pump arrived in school, they could easily see the excitement on my face and wanted to know more. I explained the differences between my old pump (Omnipod) and the new MM version. They were just as excited for me!

Then the day came where I started on the pump. I had to leave class early so I had another teacher cover and told the kids where I was going. Sure enough, the next day, they ALL asked about it. It makes me feel so special when they remember something that I say, let alone the day after! So I showed them what it looked like and moved on.

Well since I'm a first year teacher, I also don't know how to say no when people ask me to do things. Therefore, I got myself into sponsoring a track club during the off-season. I've got myself a group of about 11 students and we go out and run when the weather's nice. We do different workouts and then we visit the high school every week so the kids can meet the coaches and learn the high school drills. Usually I run with them and we have a blast.

One day, my blood sugar was super low before we went and ran. So I'm sitting at my desk eating fruit snacks and candy and everything I can get to stop from shaking. The kids were starting to come in to my classroom and were waiting to head outside. I told them how I had to wait a few minutes because of my low blood sugar. Sure enough, one student of mine pats me on the shoulder and says, "It's okay Ms. Quigley, you're more important than running right now." It melted my heart.

So not only do I get to teach these kids about science, they also learn about real life situations and how someone handles challenges. They all can say that they know someone with diabetes and when someone in their future mentions it, I know they'll say, "My 6th grade science teacher had diabetes. She had a pump and it was purple because that was her favorite color. It was also the color of dirt in her world when she drew us pictures on the board." That, my friends, means I've done my job and I loved doing it :)

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Comment by Brian (bsc) on February 8, 2013 at 4:59am

While you list that you listen, heal, guide, mentor, and learn, you also are a role model. Kids really appreciate that you can succeed in life despite having some condition or disability. Later in life, some of these kids may deal with adversity and hopefully the remember you and remember that you never let a little adversity keep you back.

Comment by caseylynn39 on February 8, 2013 at 5:32am

Thank you, Brian!! I really do hope so!

Comment by Jamie Dee on February 8, 2013 at 8:21am

Well, hello twin! I'm a first year teacher using a MM too! Although I teach juniors and seniors history. But, I am a track coach too!

I think it's great that your students know about your diabetes and have taken a vested interest in it. I teach on the Navajo Nation Indian Reservation, where type 2 diabetes is almost pandemic in terms of people who have it, so T1 is very unusual. My kids saw the tubing poking out underneath my shirt one day and it started an avalanche of questions and access to new information for them.

A few days ago, I asked them if they were President and could change one policy, what it would be. One of them told me better healthcare so people like me could get better. So, I know what you mean when you say things melt your heart! Aren't kids just amazing?

Comment by Jacob's mom on February 8, 2013 at 12:49pm

oh, i have goosebumps, what a great story thanks for sharing. children are so open, loving, nonjudgemental. you may think they are helping you but you are also helping them giving them the chance to become empathetic and kind. consider the other alternative, not sharing to spare them the grown up stuff you've got this and dont need help attitude, everyone would loose out. given the chance opening ourselves up to our vulnerabilities enhances growth all around. i hope my somewhat self conscious son can be in the world like you one day with his D, he is slowly opening up with some new friends about his D and as suspected they are interested but really like all the other parts about him and like him for that. his new bud says he is going to punch him in his pod, boy humor and when first told asked if he had type 1 or type 7 trying to lighten the mood, and jacobs load. sharing is always a good thing. so is kindness and empathy if the world was filled with people like you it would be a better place! best of luck with your new pump! amy

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Comment by Jamie Dee on February 8, 2013 at 1:23pm

Hm, I wanted to share this on Facebook, but the button is all wonky, and won't let me. I have a lot of friends who would enjoy this story! :)

Comment by shoshana27 on February 9, 2013 at 6:35am

i enjoyed reading your story. i also explain to people what that is & how it works( pump-tubing- etc...)i do not hide it.

Comment by caseylynn39 on February 9, 2013 at 6:48am

@Jamie, I'm so glad you can relate!! One of the office assistants and our assistant principal is also T1 so it helps to have someone to talk to. Share the story away!! :)

@Jacob's mom, I hope your son does eventually embrace his diabetes and share his lifestyle with others. It's hard when you're young and thankfully, I was diagnosed at 21 so I don't know what it would be like to grow up with it in school but as a middle school teacher, I have a good imagination. Growing up, I used to remember feeling how I wanted to fit in and be like everyone else so having diabetes would have been hard but now I want to show everyone how special I am because of my diabetes! Hopefully he will feel that way one day too :)

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