• Noelia Garella plays with children at the Jeromito kindergarten in Cordoba, Argentina (Diego Lima/AFP/Getty Images)Source: Diego Lima/AFP/Getty Images
“I always feel good with the children. Their parents love me and the other teachers and principals I have had were wonderful.”
Bianca Soldani

26 Oct 2016 - 4:06 PM  UPDATED 26 Oct 2016 - 4:12 PM

From her brightly coloured classroom in the Argentinian city of Córdoba, Noelia Garella reads to her young students for storytime. She’s 31 years old and is believed to be the country’s first preschool teacher with Down Syndrome.

Ms Garella has been working with the one-to-three year olds at Jermonito nursery since 2012 and says the job fulfils a childhood dream of hers.

"What I like most about being a teacher is the beauty of the children's hearts, their love," she tells AFP.

"I adore this. Ever since I was little, I have always wanted to be a teacher, because I like children so much." However the journey there hasn’t been the easiest one.

When enrolling in preschool herself, Ms Garella was turned away from an institution that told her parents she was a "monster".

Fortunately, it never diminished her determination, and even throughout a lengthy hiring process – involving consulting parents and the city mayor – she kept her dream alive.

“I always feel good with the children,” she says, “their parents love me and the other teachers and principals I have had are wonderful.”

Having started out as a reading assistant, Ms Garella now leads a class – which includes a child with Down Syndrome - alongside another teacher.

Down Syndrome is a genetic disability caused by extra material in chromosome 21, and the World Health Organisation estimates that between 3,000 and 5,000 babies are born with Down Syndrome each year.

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