When we received a questionnaire with responses indicating a definite improvement in interactions between students including those with disabilities, we requested a description about the benefit of A Touch of Understanding from a teacher’s perspective.  This was the response.

From a Teacher’s perspective, special needs, autism, above grade level, reaching benchmark are all terms familiar to today’s educator.

Teaching Second Grade for almost 20 years in the Eureka Union School District has brought many challenging moments.  Within my own class of 18 active seven year olds, three have ADHD, a number of youngsters are beyond grade level, while many of their peers are two years behind.  Single parent families, blended families, spending long hours in daycare also factor into the everyday routine of this school year. In addition, I have a young boy who is autistic and has a full-time aide, as well as increased resource assistance. Hence, with such a variety of traits, a genuine community-building environment is imperative.

Fortunately, our District is granted the opportunity to participate in A Touch of Understanding each year. This program continues to be invaluable in teaching the students to be more tolerant, patient and understanding of others.  My students were able to ride in a wheelchair, touch artificial limbs, practice mirror writing and read using the Braille method. Although Mrs. DeDora brought this program to our school in January, comments are still shared which relate to the content as we meet in class meetings or read literature about people who have disabilities.

I truly believe that my students gained a new acceptance of others and were informed about various learning styles by participating in A Touch of Understanding.  One of my goals in preparing my students for their future is to develop the “whole child.”  This concept goes beyond my responsibility to teach reading and writing, to developing caring, capable citizens. The varied experiences offered by Mrs. DeDora’s program assist in this goal and instill a wealth of life knowledge for my students as they continue on their path to adulthood. Hence, I am most grateful to participate with my students in this excellent program.

–    Terri Lewin, Second Grade Teacher, Maidu Elementary School