Wednesday, April 12, 2017

21st Century Miracle Worker By Gary Wiram

This post was first published on Dec. 12, 2013

This is a guest post from Gary Wiram, author and editor of the web site "Here I Raise My Ebenezer"

Gary is from Vancouver, Washington and in his own words "[my] site is to serve as a platform for presenting views that support America’s founding ideals, rooted in Judeo-Christian values, relative to issues impacting our community today."

21st Century Miracle Worker, by Gary Wiram


I will probably always remember the look on Maryjane Mellmer’s face when we met. We were in the elementary school Structured Communication Class (SCC) where she serves as the Teacher. FYI – SCC is a Special Ed program for kids with autism. She was supporting the efforts of a Para-educator to physically control a fifth-grader who, obviously, didn’t have much self-control. I was there to start a three-week assignment as a substitute Para-educator. When my introduction included me saying, “I want you to know that I’ve never done this before … I don’t just mean that I’ve never subbed in this sort of classroom … I mean I’ve never worked as a sub in any classroom”, though she had a numb look on her face, through a forced but brave smile and with intentional enthusiasm, she said, “Well, OK!

Maryjane Mellmer (Third from left) – Excellence Award Presentation
To my surprise and probably to Maryjane’s surprise too, we’re now in our fourth school year working together in that same classroom, Room 20.  When I tell others about my experience in Room 20, I consistently tell them that I’m blessed every school day to get to work with 21st Century Miracle Workers.  Of course, I recognize the exaggeration in saying that. The Miracle Worker is the story of Anne Sullivan, whose tutoring of the blind-and-deaf-from-infancy Helen Keller not only connected Keller with the world in order for her to have a decent life, it made it possible for her to have an exceptional life. Anne Sullivan was one of a kind. Miracle Workers like her don’t come along every day. With that said, I can’t think of a more fitting description for Maryjane.  This past month, the school district where she works honored her with its Employee Excellence Award and in doing so they acknowledged her as the leader of a team of 21st Century Miracle Workers.  In other words, they agreed with me. Considering these things, I want to tell you a little bit about how Maryjane came to her role as a Special Ed Teacher, along with some details of what she is achieving in that role. ...

MIRACLES I’ve been an eyewitness to nearly four-years-worth of miracles that have taken place in Room 20 and I have no doubt that each student who has passed through Maryjane’s classroom during the past six years has experienced miraculous progress in one way or another.  I’d like to tell you about every one of these but that doesn’t seem practical.  So, in order to give you some sense of why I describe myself as one who is “blessed every school day to get to work with 21st Century Miracle Workers”, here are the top three, according to Maryjane

The first happens to involve the very first kid I encountered when I walked into Room 20 in the Fall of 2010.  He was a second-grader who was small for his age. When he spoke to me, I had no idea what he was saying.  It turned out that he had a soft palate and though he was actually quite verbal, he was very difficult to understand.  It, also, turned out that he was quite intelligent. As you might imagine being intelligent and having difficulty communicating can be frustrating. When you couple that with autism and the lacking social skills that often accompany it, you’ve got some challenges. Thankfully, this had been somewhat mitigated by his family investing in him learning ASL (American Sign Language). The dilemma this presented Maryjane was that this little guy’s intelligence called for his academics to be outside Room 20, in GenEd classes.  While his intellect was up to that, his social skills were not. But, he desperately needed the opportunity to achieve that level of socialization.  So, Maryjane’s approach was to begin sending him out to a GenEd class for a specific daily lesson.  At first, he was accompanied by a Para-educator to support him and to return him to Room 20, if he had a meltdown before the lesson was done.  Once he was consistently getting through the lesson, Maryjane would add another daily GenEd lesson for him to join in.  This strategy proved to be so successful that he was invited to join in the GenEd Spelling Bee at the end of the school year and guess what, he won! 

And, I’m very pleased to report that his progress didn’t stop there.  The following year he was moved to a program for kids with higher skills than the kids in Room 20, his palate has continued to complete its development, so he’s continuing to be able to speak more clearly and this year, he was enrolled full-time in a GenEd class.   ...
To read the other wonderful miracles with these special education children and read the entire article with photos, please click:  "21st Century Miracle Worker" by Gary Wiram

I [Michael, author of the Tales] have a special affinity for teachers and especially mothers of special needs children, as my wife was an awesome special needs mother who lost her son, Jermaine, in May of this year [2013].  Here is the tribute I read at the funeral: "Tribute To A Special Child."

1 comment:

bradley said...

Bless your family