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Cathy Jasso | Running For Longevity | Recap

Teacher spends over four decades bringing out the best in students...

by Nolan Hawk

Cathy Jasso is a special education teacher who has spent over four decades bringing out the best in students with a wide range of intellectual and physical disabilities.

She instills within them a sense of confidence and normalcy. As a result of her dedication, hundreds of students have been able to maintain fulfilling lives in spite of their afflictions. 

Cathy Jasso Discovers Her Passion for Working With People With Disabilities

As early as high school, Cathy had been volunteering at Misericordia, a well-renowned Chicago-based home for people with disabilities. Her passion for serving the disadvantaged was immediately evident, and before long, she was a paid behavioral technician at Misericordia. 

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Cathy’s time as a behavioral technician was the seed that blossomed into her career in special education. 

What Makes Cathy Jasso an Everyday Hero?

As anyone who works within the social services or education sectors will tell you, there is not a lot of money to be made in these fields; it is work that must be done purely out of passion, and this is something Cathy has in droves.

She is heroic because she has devoted four decades of her life to caring for an underprivileged sector of the population, putting them before any shred of desire for superfluous wealth.

What Impact Has Cathy Jasso Made?

It’s impossible to quantify the positivity that Cathy has brought into the lives of her students. While they are rarely shy to remind her how much she means to them, her impact is most evident in the many letters she has received from parents throughout the years.

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“I have a big box of letters from parents,” she says. “The parents say things like, ‘I’m leaving my three year-old nonverbal child with someone else. I’ve never done that before, but when it’s with you, I feel comfortable doing so. Parents write me the most life-changing, beautiful notes.”

What Are Some of Cathy Jasso’s Greatest Struggles as a Teacher?

While Cathy manages to be a role model for her disadvantaged students, her own life has never been perfect. A major obstacle she had to overcome was the passing of her husband; diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, he required constant care at the end of his life, a responsibility that Cathy took upon herself whilst balancing her career. 

The primary way in which Cathy has dealt with stress in her life—work-related or otherwise—is exercising. Running in particular has not only given Cathy a healthy body, but a healthy mind.

She views running as her “prayer time,” an hour or so in which she can allow her troubles to melt away. When she runs, she thanks God for all the blessings in her life.

“I’m running slow, but I’m not in a race with anybody,” she says.

Cathy Jasso on What People Get Wrong About People With Disabilities

Having spent four decades working with children with disabilities, Cathy has a high opinion of the disenfranchised group. She can’t stand to see the ridicule they endure, especially when it’s at the hands of their peers.

She wishes that people understood that people with disabilities are important, that their neurodivergence makes them unique thinkers who are invaluable to our society.

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To parents of children with disabilities, Cathy recommends joining support groups and asking their children’s schools for resources. Her most important piece of advice, however, is to never treat one’s child as an “other,” as this will instill within them a victim complex.

According to her, children with disabilities should still be treated as normal, as they too are human beings who deserve to feel valued.

Cathy Jasso Is a Hero

Even after her “retirement,” Cathy immediately began substitute teaching at a local school. Teaching students with disabilities is something that she cannot escape, as at this point, it is an inherent part of her.

She is a hero because she sacrifices parts of herself—her time, her finances, sometimes even her emotional wellbeing—to serve people in need. She has made an incalculably positive impact on the world, helping hundreds upon hundreds of students to feel valued and worthy of fulfilling lives.

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