Paul Daugherty
Enquirer columnist files news and observations

Paul Daugherty
Paul Daugherty has been an Enquirer sports columnist since 1994 and has been chronicling Cincinnati sports since 1988. He has covered almost every major sporting event in America, as well as five Summer Olympics. Along the way, he has been named one of the country's top-5 sports columnists four times, and Ohio columnist of the year on seven different occasions. Last year, he was voted 2nd-best sports columnist in the country, by the Associated Press Sports Editors.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Jillian Gets a Summer Job

When you have a child with a disability, all you want is a fair shake. You don't want favors, you don't want an easier path, you don't want to be patronized. You just want those in the business of judging to see with clear eyes.

My 18-year-old daughter wants to be a teacher's aide. She has prepped for it the last two years by leaving her public high school at 1 in the afternoon, to work in an elementary school classroom. She has helped kindergarten and 4th-graders to read and do simple math. She's very good at it.

A few months ago, she decided she'd like to try it over the summer, for pay. As Jillian's parents, my wife and I were ecstatic. One thing you learn quickly with these kids -- and it should be a universal lesson -- is that you allow them to tell you what they can do. Passing premature judgment on anyone is wrong; for kids with disabilities, it can be stifling.

Letters of recommendation from teachers in hand, Jillian interviewed at two daycare facilities. She got job offers from both. All that remains is for her to decide. Her feet havent touched the ground for days.

Jillian gets her foot in the career door. She gets the respect and the responsibility that comes from working. Her employer gets a dedicated, happy, smart employee. This is what can happen when eyes see clearly.

Congrats to the daycare centers for that. And to my little girl, not so little anymore, for seizing the day.


at 8:25 AM OpenID jake2bake4 said...

Please extend my congratulations to your daughter. I'm a 21 year-old college student and can see how easily people give up when given every opportunity to succeed. That makes it all the more impressive to read about your daughter. I hope she is running her own spot when I have kids!

at 8:27 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...


You should be proud of her as an 18 year old getting a summer job, let alone the other challenges. I hope you realize that her courage to succeed and your willingness to share with the public should both be commended. As a father, I hope my girls grow up to have her drive and spirit.

at 8:47 AM Blogger Jeff Lehner said...

Coolest, best thing I've read all morning. That's great man.

Now...time to get productive...

at 9:08 AM Anonymous vermontdad said...

Great news for Jillian!! The facility where she is working is lucky to have her. My daughter is a teacher (4th generation on her mom's side). I'm always amazed at how creative she is. She loves it. I hope Jillian has the same type experience.

at 9:14 AM Blogger dan said...


Congratulations to you and your daughter.

If you don't mind sharing, what is the disability that your daughter has?

As a parent of a child with special needs (mild autism), this is a subject that I've spent many a day wondering about.

If you don't feel comfortable sharing or if you want to take this to email, that is fine.

at 9:32 AM Blogger Paul Daugherty said...

Dan... Jillian has Down Syndrome. Tnanks for writing.

at 9:58 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

I spent the weekend watching youth soccer matches all over Southwest Ohio. At every single games, there was a contingency of controlling, overbearing, over-the-top parents, who were screaming at their children as they play a game ... Parents yelling for their sons and daughters to "hit" other kids and "knock 'em down," hypercritcal adults with limited knowledge and understanding of the game, just blistering their children for mistakes on the field. Every single referee in every single match was ridiculed, harassed, and yelled at. To be sure, there are the other kind ... supportive, positive parents, offering nothing more than polite cheers as their children play, but their voices are almost always drown out by the first group.

As I read your blog this morning, I could not help but think how much our community can learn from you and your daughter ... Unconditional love and positive support, the recognition that this is her life and her choice, the space and freedom to make mistakes and fail, and the simple beauty of success by their own efforts, on their own terms. Thanks for restoring something I lost this weekend.

Good luck to Jillian in her new job. Keep up the good work.


at 9:58 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's great news for your daughter and for you and your family. Dedicated people like Jillian is what our schools need. I have trouble getting around because of spinal stenosis but your comment about not telling those of us with disabilities what we can and cannot do is well taken.

at 10:20 AM Blogger Laura said...

Congratulations to your daughter. I have a cousin that has Down Syndrome, and I know how exciting and rewarding it's been for him to have a regular job - he works as a janitor of sorts at a school. Hope she loves it as much as my cousin does!

at 10:29 AM Blogger Mike said...

Paul, You said a mouthful! As the father of a six-year-old special needs child, you're words really struck home! My congratulations to the whole family. I read you every day and nothing has made me smile more! Go Jillian!

at 10:35 AM Anonymous Heek said...


Thank you for making my morning. That is sensational. Makes me want to cry. Helps me believe that humanity is still the core that drives us all.

Way to go Jillian! Doc, you're a great father. Today is a good day.

Heek in the Nati

at 10:54 AM Blogger Frank Robinson's Ghost said...

Conmgratulations to both of you! Great news . . . and a valuable parenting tip as well.

at 11:31 AM Blogger Rus said...


I very much appreciate the small glimpses into your personal life. Thanks.

Congratulations Jillian!!!

at 11:32 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thanks for sharing this with us and Congratulations to Jillian! I'm not that old, 35, but as I get older I notice that I seem to savor special moments in my life more. While this is probably not a shocking revelation to most, the happy thoughts of your post reminded me of how sports in this town used to make me feel. I'll take more posts like this one over the sports in this town any day.

at 3:34 PM Blogger Xxter said...

I couldn't help but smile as I read your post about Jillian. This point of success in life moved me as I read of the lift she got with the arrival of her job offers. We would all be fortunate to have her spirit.

at 3:55 PM OpenID rauja said...

Good for Jillian - she knows what she wants and took the necessary time and effort to make it happen.

No doubt she'll be a superb teacher's aid.


at 6:33 PM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congratulations to your daughter for her success coming from great effort! She is the best. AMDG.

at 10:52 AM Anonymous Anonymous said...

Paul: I have always felt that God places "special needs" children with parents who have "special talents." Your touching, proud revelations about Jillian's new job simply reinforced that notion. Congrats to her for her tenacity and perserverance; congrats to you and your wife for showing such parental wisdom and love for Jillian. What a wonderful human interest story; thanks for sharing your joy with your devoted readers.

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