One of the highlights of our 30th Anniversary Dinner was a letter read to the membership from Joanne Collins, the Windsor High School teacher whose classroom received a gift of an iPad from NCMUG. Here’s that letter in case you missed it.
I regret that I will not be able to meet with the Mac Users Group this evening. I have been out sick for the past 4 days and on returning to work today, find that I am not up to par yet. I would like you to please let the organization know what your donation has meant to our class.
Meeting you and having you donate an iPad to our classroom was an extraordinary event. The item, in and of itself, has made a difference to my students. I would, however, like to speak first about what I see as a much more valuable connection between the Mac Users Group and the students of K 10.
Typically, a classroom full of students with severe disabilities is like an island existing within the framework of a school. We have different principals, secretaries and support staff. We mingle within the general education community as “special” people but we are rarely, if ever, thought of businesses and other community members when it comes to donations of equipment or funds or any other type of classroom support.
What was so different about your presentation to us is the relationship it has built. You didn’t just say, “Here is an iPad for you,” and then disappear back into the “regular” world. You came to lunch! You sat with the students of K 101 and the staff, parents, and I and enjoyed a lovely social event. Typically, students with significant disabilities don’t get community members to sit down to lunch with them. On top of that, Lorene, you maintained contact with us. You can’t imagine what that lovely gesture means to us.
My students need to develop relationships with people in the community. It is often very difficult to do that because my students always present themselves as a large group who needs to have paid adults to “Take care of them.” Thus the community sees my students as “special” people who need to always be in “special” areas. What we need is for the community to see them as employable, competent workers. In my classroom you were able to see some of the things my students were able to accomplish with accommodations. Now that we have the iPad, we have an exceptional tool to encourage communication and open doors to the community.
Your donation of the money for us to purchase the speech program has opened up communication in the classroom and the community for some students who were more comfortable hanging in the background avoiding social interaction. It gives students courage to speak to someone they don’t know well. Using that program also works well with communication between people who speak only English or only Spanish as the icons are easily understood universally.
We have students engaging in more conversations amongst themselves whereas previously they almost only spoke with adults. The programs we have added allow students with limited abilities to roll a die, play tic, tack, toe and other games that students who have difficulty holding a pencil would not have access to otherwise.
We have a page for each students that they use when they work that reminds them of what to do next and can reinforce their doing their work well. The students really enjoy seeing pictures of themselves and they are learning how to use that to tell someone else about what they do at work.
I could go on and on, Lorene, but I really want your organization to understand what a tremendous effect your donation has made to my students. I am so sorry to not be able to attend this evening because of my health. I want to ask that you and some other members attend our Dare to Dine Luncheon on Halloween here in the classroom where students can thank you again and show you how they are using the iPad.
With regrets, Joanne