“My transcript’s pretty good, but it can’t reflect the kind of person that I am,” says Saffle, who, along with playing football, lifting weights and taking care of homework, also teaches special needs children.
“I teach the special ed kids in a class at our school,” says Saffle. “I’ve talked in front of 3,000 kids, so I’m really good at communicating. I’m a really hands-on type of person. I’m really good at talking to people. I think that’s one of the things that stood out to me about the coaches. I’m a guy who’s very proactive – you can tell by how I called them.”
Saffle’s ability to communicate that drew him to the opportunity to teach special needs students.
“I’ve always been a big fan of helping kids,” Saffle says. “I love teaching. I’m a good hands-on person. I’m very good at communicating. I’m a very likeable person, I think. The special needs opportunity, I guess, was a chance to humble myself, in a way. Being able to work with these kids is definitely something that’s a blessing in itself. It’s remarkable the types of abilities these kids have, and how they see the world from a different perspective that we will never be able to see – which most people don’t see. I get to teach these kids and, I guess, change their lives, but the best part is, they’re changing mine, as well.”
Every day, Saffle and the other students who volunteered to teach help the special needs students do different jobs that will help them in their lives outside of school.
“We do simulations and talk with them and make them happy and a bunch of stuff like that,” says Saffle.
The special needs class is a class at Saffle’s Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline High School. It consists of a teacher and three assistants, and those assistants get to work with a different kid every day.
There were other students up for the opportunity to be those teachers assistants, but due to the challenge of the job, few apply. Fewer are chosen.
“A lot of the students don’t understand the perspective of the kids you’re working with,” says Saffle. “There are a few kids who got that class at the beginning of the year, but they dropped out because they couldn’t handle the diversity in the situation. It’s cool that I was able to take on that type of path, and it’s a big blessing, in itself.”
The job is also very rewarding for Saffle.
“One of the things, I walk into the classroom every day, and I get to see how excited the kids are, just to see my face,” says Saffle. “It’s one of the most rewarding things, to work with someone like that, and I get to humble myself a little bit.
“In another class in my school, I got to go to the preschool and help the kids in the preschool, as well, so I’m in love with teaching. I probably won’t be a teacher, but it really helps with my communication skills.”
While Saffle admits that he probabl won’t wind up being a teacher after football is over, the opportunity has allowed him to expand his communication skills, and he wants to use those to major in either communication or business when he gets to Berkeley.