Second gift in mom’s name given to Shawnee Middle School (SMS). The Special Education Team at SMS asked for funding to support the purchase of adaptive seating:  soft cushions, bean bag and bungee chairs, and wobble chairs. These seats help children feel secure and can diffuse an escalation of  behavior when they are overstimulated. They also allow for movement helping them to stay focused in class.  These tools are very useful in helping children with sensory disorders and those with mild disabilities, emotional disturbance, or severe profound intellectual disabilities.

Mom was a Reading Specialist who after 30+ years of teaching had helped many children learn to read. Her methods and philosophies about teaching and the school system were centered around children and families. As a grandma, she watched as my sister and I navigated through our own children’s struggles to grow and learn to read and write. A few years before her passing, my husband and I started the IEP process for our daughter, which proved much harder than we thought it would be… While I grew tired of her saying…”Well…when I was teaching it was done like this….,” I learned that common sense and conventional wisdom must have a place within an educational framework that expects so much from our children and families. I call it a “Children First Systems Second” approach, but she just called it common sense. Mom’s sense of justice was truly automatic and second nature to her, which is what made her such a wonderful champion for her students and others in her life. It was also an attribute that oftentimes isolated her. Much like my experiences, as she watched me painfully advocate for our daughter’s needs in school. Mom was my champion (as always) and stoic amidst a true personal struggle to accept systemic problems in our educational system for children with disabilities.  While these struggles are very real for many families today, I should say that not every family has the same challenges in obtaining services for their child, which is a wonderful thing! During this time together, we also learned about many new interventions being used to teach children learn how to read, like the Orton Gillingham method, and adaptive seating. Adaptive seating in fact was a very useful intervention used by special education teachers for our daughter in her school while mom was alive. Mom would be very happy to know that this gift will help children feel better and more ready to learn in the classroom. What a positive solution to help children in the classroom!

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