Thank You, Students!

Teaching No Comments »

Since my last blog I have had positive, endearing comments from many of you, my former students. Do you know how much this means to me? I would have a big head if I didn’t know the whole truth.

Teachers are only as successful as their students are. You are the ones who inspired me, who gave me energy, who made my career possible. I used to walk into the classroom where you were seated, knowing that most of you really wanted to be there and were excited about the experiences that were to follow. You were concerned about the children you were preparing to teach and eager to know more about them and the teaching strategies that you would employ. You were creative and industrious and brought out those qualities in me. And you did have questions: questions that sent me to inquire and to learn. You brought your problems and joys to me and I shared many of my own with you. We were family.

School administrators have long sought direction in evaluating teachers – you have been involved in many of these attempts. The truth is that teachers are successful to the degree that their students succeed and this takes a long time to evaluate. As I hear from you and know that you are good teachers I taste our mutual success.

Thank you, students, for making me look so good!


Adults with Down Syndrome, Community Participation, Diversity, Down Syndrome, Education, Inclusion, People with Disabilities, Uncategorized 4 Comments »

While equal opportunity employment is a vital element in the inclusion of persons with disabilities into the community, there are other important ways to help accomplish this goal. An organization called SHOUT (Students Helping Others Understand Tomorrow) makes a concerted effort to introduce diverse groups of people to selected high school students.

SHOUT is sponsored by the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce and is designed to inform future leaders of possibilities for service in the area. For several years, Billy and I have been asked to meet with the group on Diversity Day, one of the five categories in the program. One of the stated goals for this session is: “To initiate, foster, and promote an understanding and appreciation for all people and their unique perspectives and contributions to the world.”

My thrust is the development of attitudes from tolerance to acceptance to celebration of diversity. Billy shows his slides, pointing out the normalcy of his life and the importance of his family. His real message, however takes place during his interaction with the students at lunch time and after the program. Initially reticent, they find that he is easy to talk with and fun to be around. Evaluations referred to it as “an eye-opening day,” stating, “Billy was awesome; it was definitely an amazing experience.” In planning their graduation ceremony, the students asked that Billy hand out their certificates. On the appropriate night Billy, dressed in suit and tie, shook hands and gave out certificates to all the students. At the end of the program, students write letters to thank the session leaders. One letter addressed to me read:

We were very privileged to have you speak to us on Diversity Day. Your presentation was a touching and heartwarming experience. Not only did you show us that you should not be ashamed of or try to hide your differences, but you urged everyone to CELEBRATE what makes them special. I think nearly everyone can agree with you that Billy has a way of teaching people that no one else is capable of. He has an extraordinary gift and that is something to celebrate.On behalf of everyone in the SHOUT program, thank you. We were blessed to have you!

It is a joyful opportunity to be involved with this group – future parents, professionals, and employers.

Do you know of community organizations that encourage and promote the inclusion of people with disabilities? Is there potential in any of your social organizations to develop such ideals?

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