Dear Fellow Teacher,
Schools face ever-increasing pressures to provide safe, enriching environments for children, in which they can flourish into well-adjusted, highly educated citizens of our world.
It’s daunting to imagine the funding, training and commitment necessary to individualize a program for every student, regardless of learning style, home environment, learning disability and exceptionality — but that’s exactly what we must do as educators. We must look at each of our students as being capable of tremendous success.
I have limb-girdle muscular dystrophy, which first manifested when I was 8 years old. I had difficulty getting up from the floor, and I fell frequently. In fact, my second-grade teacher is the one who finally convinced my parents to seek medical attention, which led to my diagnosis.
I feel blessed to have had some of the best teachers at the public schools I attended in Kettering, Ohio. I was a student during the 1970s and ’80s, before special education was a widely known concept. Nonetheless, my teachers encouraged me to develop my talents and get the best education possible. They even modified gym class and other physical activities for me before the law said they had to, because they were dedicated and creative and understood the key to educating kids: Help them believe they can do anything they set their minds to do.
Now, as a teacher myself, I strive to continue that teaching philosophy. We all must follow a commonsense approach to working with people who have disabilities or other exceptional qualities. The key is not to do everything for them. The key is to help them see that with creativity, a strong will and a good work ethic, anything is possible! As Sharon Christa McAuliffe, teacher and astronaut, said, “Any dream can come true if you have the courage to work for it.”
This booklet, along with other educational materials and resources from the Muscular Dystrophy Association, is a good tool designed to help you achieve the daunting — but doable — goal of dedicated teachers everywhere: to provide the best education possible for all children.
Thank you from my heart for everything you do!
Spanish teacher, Kettering Fairmont High School
Recipient, MDA National Personal Achievement Award, 2003
Recipient, Frieda J. Riley National Teaching Award, 2002
Recipient, Jiffy Lube Excellence in Teaching Award, 2000