Special Services Update


Anaya Ellick Wins National Handwriting Contest

Anaya Ellick, a first grade student from Virginia, recently won Zaner-Bloser's National Handwriting contest, with her near perfect transcription of "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog." The judges were stunned to discover that Ananya was born without hands, and she doesn't use prosthetics. She balances the pencil between her wrists, and with sheer will and determination her hadnwriting is indistinguishable from her classmates. She keeps up with her peers in many other ways. Her Principal urged her to enter the contest, and states "There is truly very little that this girl cannot do".

In a similar vein, Nyle DiMarco, a deaf model and actor, is currently competing in "Dancing with the Stars". Prior to beginning the show Nyle had never danced before, and wasn't sure if he could do it. He was concerned, stating "I didn't want to give 18 million people an excuse to say 'Deaf people can't dance'. But I decided to jump into the challenge". His premiere dance was the cha-cha, and the crowd went wild. He and his partner have created nonverbal cues to guide him through the routine, however, he has discovered he is often able to rely on his own sense of rhythm and timing to execute the routines. He has even won the praises of the tough panel of judges, who have called him "terrific".

How can a girl without hands have perfect handwriting? How can a profundly deaf man do the cha-cha? Given the opportunity, they were both willing to try. No one knew they could exceed until they had the chance- until the pencil was given to Anaya and the music was turned on for Nyle.

Are there times when we unintentionally limit students due to their disabilities? Of course. We are in a helping profession and our job is to support students. But I think we should carefully consider the remarkable feats these two individuals have accomplished, and think about times when we might give students an opportunity they might not otherwise have due to their disability. When you might put a pencil in a child's hand, or turn the music on....

Reminder: Next Thursday will be our last Elementary Special Education faculty meeting, we will send out more information, including location, shortly.

Here's your tool of the week, the "Learning Environment Checklist", which helps you create a distraction free environment for all students. You can find it here: http://www.tooloftheweek.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/TOW-5-9-16-differentiating-instruction-2.pdf