(girl) Work with… That was “Work with Mrs Genovesa,” so that means that
we’re going to finish it together, OK? So copy up what you’ve done so far… (man) Meet Julie Genovesa. This is her Year Four class at Buttsbury
Junior School in Billericay in Essex. Could you uncross my legs, please?
Thank you. Do you want them crossed the other way? Before I went into teaching I was a business analyst in the City
in commodity trading. I became a teacher
when I fell pregnant with my son. I’d done teaching for only a year before I was diagnosed
with motor neurone. (children) ..18, 19, 20. – She’s a fun teacher.
– Very fun. – She’s my best teacher so far.
– Yes. “..the big red bug in the pot.” Fantastic.
I’m very proud of you, Christopher. It was a huge blow. I was told some years ago now,
five years ago, that I’d got motor neurone disease, that it was incurable,
progressive and terminal and that I should expect to live
for another 18 months. And that was it. – (man) That was five years ago?
– Yes. – What is it now?
– (man) She’s reading us a story. – Do you like that?
– Yes. This is a real lady
and she’s told us her story. Can you hear me, Tommy? We trained Julie,
we’re a training school, and that went very well indeed,
her training year in Year Three. And as head teacher I’m always
on the lookout for good teachers and I snapped her up. And it was a blow for us
when the diagnosis came through. And everybody was totally dumbfounded. I went into a wheelchair during my first year
of coming back to school. (Vaughan) Our response was
she’s a member of staff, a valued member of staff, we have to adjust to enable her
to stay in the school. Once I’d convinced
the medical professionals that I actually wanted to work, they did everything in their power
to help me to do it. I didn’t wear my ventilator
quite so often then. That’s been introduced and
now I have to wear it 24 hours a day. But the children have just accepted it
and I get on with it. Motor neurone disease. – (man) What does that do?
– I don’t know. It stops all her muscles
from working properly. – Very brave.
– Yes. Really good teacher. – Smiley, funny.
– Funny. Yes. Really funny. The other adjustment we’ve needed to do is to ensure that she has
more teaching assistant support, and she has voluntary help in terms of
any caring needs that she has when she’s in school. We’re her hands and feet, so if she
needs something written on the board, tea made, lunch fed,
errands run, kids helped… Whatever it takes, really.
Any personal needs. Moving her arms and legs,
that type of thing. (Vaughan) She is a model for anyone
that is managing to cope with being very different
from the rest of us, as such. And that’s very good for the children. But here we are five or six years on and it’s a very positive story, I think, for her and for the school. If you want to do it, carry on. It’s not your fault that you’re ill. I don’t need my arms or my legs
to teach effectively, therefore I carry on teaching. “We would see a stork
flying high in the sky with our new baby.” “I was hungry…”