Nick Landry had more challenges in school than many of his peers
Marshfield Mariner - 4/5/2017
Nick Landry had more challenges in school than many of his peers, but he never let it stop him from pursuing his goal, and working toward becoming an educator himself.
Landry was diagnosed with Asperger’s, an autism-spectrum disorder, when he was 8, and became aware of his diagnosis at age 12.
Landry graduated from Marshfield High School in 2006, and Emmanuel College in 2010. He’s hoping to land a job as a social studies teacher in either a high school or middle school setting.
Now, working as a full-time substitute teacher at Marshfield High School, Landry can bring his experience, positive attitude and different perspective to his students and colleagues. He also volunteers as an assistant football coach, and works with the boys and girls basketball and lacrosse teams at the high school.
“I just try to be the best person I can be every day,” Landry said.
Landry was recognized with the 2017 Essential Puzzle Piece award during the 10th annual Austim Gala Saturday, April 1 by Teamsters Local 25.
“Nick is a true inspiration to all of us,” said Sean O’Brien, president and principal officer of Teamsters Local 25.
O’Brien said Landry has faced numerous challenges head-on and his hard work and success makes him a perfect recipient of this award.
“In the last 10 years, we've honored government leaders, celebrities with ties to autism, and those that work with people with autism, but this is really special. Nick Landry isn’t just living with autism, he is thriving, and we're proud to honor him with our 2017 Essential Puzzle Piece Award,” he said.
Landry said the honor means a lot to him.
“I was surprised and very humbled,” he said. “When you’re like me – I was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, Asperger’s – it’s tough, but it’s a great honor to be recognized for perseverance.”
School wasn’t always easy for Landry. In elementary and middle school, he said he often felt bullied in class and on the bus – an issue that wasn’t identified as an issue in schools the way it is now, Landry said.
“In high school, I did well, but there were definitely times where I had trouble socially,” he said. “There were times when I had emotional reactions to situations, and sometimes my classmates saw me really upset.”
The worst part, Landry said, was when people didn’t take the time to get to know him or understand his perspective.
“There were people who wouldn’t take the time to get to understand how I see the world, but that comes with the territory,” he said. “But the people who do take the time to get to know me make up for it.”
Landry said he enjoys working with students now, helping them succeed in and out of the classroom.
“My students inspire me every day,” he said.
As a Marshfield High graduate, and an adult on the autism spectrum, Landry said he brings a unique perspective to the school.
“I try to teach them that when they graduate and go out into the world, they’ll meet all different types of people – people on the autism spectrum, people who have different routines or see the world differently,” he said.
Marshfield High School Principal Bob Keuther said he's known Landry both as a student and an educator.
"He is a lifelong learner, who has overcome challenges through hard work, perseverance and dedication," said Keuther. "These traits set him apart. He is an outstanding young man."
Landry said he hopes his students and his colleagues get to know him, and by knowing him it inspires them to get to know other people and be open to different perspectives.
“For me, you just need to take pride in who you are,” Landry said.
Follow Kaila Braley on Twitter @MarinerKaila.