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tyrona taylor with family

How Mom and Special Education Teacher Tyrona Taylor Spends Her Monday

meeting special needs at home and at work

As a single mom to three boys (a 1-year-old, a 7-year-old who has special needs, and a 19-year-old now in the Army), a special education teacher in Dallas ISD, and a student working toward her master’s degree, Tyrona Taylor has a full day every day. The Louisiana native makes her home in Seagoville. Her middle child, Malachi, has pachygyria—a developmental condition involving the brain—and experiences seizures.

6AM I turn my alarm off and turn on Kirk Franklin’s Praise on Pandora. Hop out of the bed to collect and administer my 7-year-old son Malachi’s seizure medication and change his diaper before the nurse arrives.

6:15AM Turn on “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” for Malachi and make a pot of coffee. I also prepare 1-year-old Ashton a bottle and place it in the warmer while I get ready for work.

6:30AM I’m dressed now. I get the bottle out of the warmer, get Ashton dressed for daycare, change his diaper and feed him before we leave.

6:50AM Greet Malachi’s nurse and sign her in.

7AM Out the door to take Ashton to daycare.

7:40AM I arrive at work. Grab my lunch and computer and head inside the school. I get my temperature checked before I enter.

8AM I collaborate with my coworkers, talking about meetings, trainings, new students and any upcoming events—such as parent-teacher conferences and ARD meetings. The list goes on and on, and I’m already feeling overwhelmed. I can’t help but think about Ashton, because he just started daycare. I’m also wondering what my oldest is up to. He just left for boot camp, and I haven’t heard from him.

8:15AM Can’t think about those things for too long—have to grab hand sanitizer, gloves and face shield, then head to the front of the school to get my kiddos off the bus.

8:45AM Head back to the classroom for handwashing, restroom break and breakfast.

9AM I’m on Zoom with my kiddos whose parents decided to stay virtual, while my kiddos in the classroom finish breakfast, check their schedule and start art by watching a YouTube tutorial, “How to Draw a Funny Cheeseburger.”

10AM Done with my Zoom, I teach a lesson on the subject of the month, government. I’m a little overwhelmed because Zoom lasted longer than expected, so we didn’t get to have our morning meeting. I thrive off of structure. But it’s Monday and everyone usually has questions from the weekend. We’ll get back on track later.

11AM Time for lunch. My students know that after lunch, it’s leisure time—something they look forward to every day. While they’re on leisure, I try to sneak a bite to eat and start writing IEP goals and objectives for an upcoming ARD.

NOON I wonder what Ashton is doing. I know Malachi is good; Mrs. Sarah has been caring for him for almost his entire life, so she’s like his second mom. I call the daycare to check on Ashton and make a phone call for Malachi’s doctor appointment.

Then back to writing goals, checking emails, Google Classroom and Vizzle. That’s another platform for work, which allows me to manage data on progress. I forgot to input data today, so I’ll have to do it later.

12:30PM Although I’m not nearly done with paperwork, I need to get my students off of leisure and teach another lesson.

1:15PM Usually I would be teaching a life-skills lesson, but due to COVID, everyone has their iPad—so I allow them to complete a life-skills lesson on Google Classroom for Vizzle and tell me what they learned.

2PM Snack time. We head outside to get a little fresh air. While they’re playing basketball and doing other activities, I try to complete my ARD paperwork and respond to any messages or from parents. And of course, read emails and comply with daily deadlines.

Suddenly I wonder, Did I put grades in for last week? Check my grade book to make sure.

2:45PM Head back in the building to clean up, take a bathroom break and spray tables and dividers. Then we prepare for the buses to come.

3:30PM Students start to leave, and I do some last-minute planning for tomorrow.

4PM Leaving work to pick Ashton up from daycare. As usual, traffic on 635.

4:45PM Stop by the store or stop to get Malachi his favorite beans from Taco Bueno. He doesn’t chew, so the refried beans and chili sauce with a side of ground beef is the perfect texture to cater to his sensory needs.

5:30PM Finally made it home. Get Ashton out of the car, speak to Malachi and give him a big kiss. I prepare Ashton a bottle and jump in the shower. If my goddaughter Brianna is here, she’ll take Ashton while I’m in the shower and even feed him for me.

6:30PM Mrs. Sarah is leaving, so I talk to her about Malachi’s day, including new activities, bowel movements, seizure activity and anything else I need to be aware of.  She’ll usually remind me of something I forgot about, like appointments and needed equipment.

6:45PM Mrs. Sarah is out the door. I’m reading the boys a book. Hoping they will fall asleep soon so I can study.

8PM Pull out my laptop, notebook, pen and my Exceptional Learners textbook. I really need to read at least one chapter and an article and look at a video that the teacher has assigned for this week.

Malachi is fast asleep, but Ashton is looking at me with his big brown eyes, babbling and wanting me to talk to him. I talk to him and then start to read my textbook out loud. He smiles wide.

9PM Ashton is finally asleep. I want to sleep, but I’m still reading and looking for research to start on my assignment that is due Friday. I know I will not finish, but writing notes along the way helps me keep my thoughts together before I type it up Thursday.

10PM I lay in bed and turn on the TV. I’m asleep within 15 minutes.

Fast Facts

Hobbies Arts and crafts, plus making bath bombs
Regular destinations It was Arizona and Vegas before I had Ashton.
Where she goes for retail therapy Amazon
Celebrity crush Idris Elba
Restaurant she loves for family meals Razzoo’s
Most-used emoji The rolling-on-the-floor-laughing face
Beverage of choice Water
Favorite family tradition Getting together in my hometown for Easter
Best purchase ever My home
No. 1 item on her bucket list Visit France for Fashion Week
Beauty product she can’t live without Bobbi Brown foundation
On a girls’ night, you’ll find her Entertaining at home, in pajamas and having a glass of wine
Biggest pet peeve When people don’t clean up behind themselves
When life gets stressful I go to the spa for a massage
Motherhood in five words Unconditional, love, patience, forgiving, priceless
Favorite gift to give friends A motivational planner
If she had an autobiography, it would be titled How To Be Patient and Wait for God to Show You Your Purpose: The Story of Tyrona Taylor
Her theme song “Diamonds” by Rihanna
She’s really good at Getting things done under pressure
She’s really bad at Waiting for someone else to get something done for me
Dream job Owning my own day care, Grace Learning Academy. I already have my license.

Photo courtesy of PhotographybyKen.