Argentina's first teacher with Down syndrome shatters stereotypes to achieve her dream

Noelia Garella has fought against discrimination and stereotypes to score her dream job.
Noelia Garella has fought against discrimination and stereotypes to score her dream job. Photo: Facebook@Noelia Garella

When Noelia Garella was a small child a day care centre director rejected her application and called her a "monster". Now, aged 31, she has overcome a life of prejudice to become Argentina's first teacher with Down syndrome.

Garella's determination to become a teacher was so fierce that the pre-school in the northern city of Cordoba set a new precedent by hiring her to teach a class of two-to three-year-olds.

"I adore this. Ever since I was little, I have always wanted to be a teacher, because I like children so much," she told the Independent.

"I want them to read and listen, because in society people have to listen to one another."

But not everyone was happy with her appointment. One person "in a position of responsibility" judged that she should not take classes because of her condition, Alejandra Senestrari, the former director of the school who hired Garella explained.

However, teachers, parents and even the city's mayor got involved in the case. Together, they decided there was no reason why Garella couldn't teach an early-learning reading class.

"With time, even those who had been opposed joined in the initiative to hire Noe as a teacher," said Senestrari.

"We very quickly realized that she had a strong vocation. She gave what the children in the nursery classes most appreciate, which is love."

While Down syndrome can affect a person's physical and intellectual growth it doesn't impact optimism and self determination – as Garella proves.

Advertisement

A video of Garella reading to her class that has been posted on Facebook shows a group of happy and attentive children who hang on every word she says. The video has already been shared more than 200 thousand times. Thousands of comments praise the young teacher for her determination.

"Talk about overcoming labels and stereotypes. Way to go! You are limitless, perfect and with a purpose," writers one person.

Another commenter says: "Oh, this story warms my heart. As a teacher myself, I can say that teaching is truly more of an art than a science. She has a gift and she proved her naysayer wrong.

"Most of all, I applaud her tenacity to become a teacher and second, the love and support she's received from the children and their parents. We need more feel-good stories like this. Thank you for circulating this."

Recalling the day she was rejected by the pre-school centre, Garella says that the director told her parents "no monsters here."

But now she has the last laugh: "That teacher is like a story that I read to the children," she says.

"She is a sad monster, who knows nothing and gets things wrong. I am the happy monster."

Watch the video below: