Some unsung heroes’ impact is so great, we think of them decades later.
The Center for Family Involvement’s Rural Outreach Specialist and Family to Family’s Regional Coordinator for Southwest Virginia Lisa Richard shares:
“Twenty five years ago when our daughter Zoe, who has Down syndrome, was 6 years old we moved back to my hometown. In our previous school system she had been welcomed with open arms into an inclusive classroom. When we moved, I mistakenly thought that we would have a similar experience starting kindergarten. Instead, an epic battle to give her the opportunity to belong and fully participate in the typical classroom with her peers began. The principal said she was not allowed to go to kindergarten and that she would attend the class at the end of the hall with the rest of the children with intellectual disabilities.
As we worked through the process of trying to get her fully included, a kindergarten teacher told us she would take Zoe into her classroom with no support. She acknowledged that as a teacher she too felt that Zoe should be allowed to be a part of the general education classroom and she would do the best she could until supports were put into place. Zoe joined her class the next day. Mrs. Haderer did all she could to help Zoe participate in daily activities. Eventually the school provided a paraprofessional for the class. But it was this wonderful teacher who put herself out there and stood up to the administration. Zoe was the first child with intellectual disabilities in our school district to receive an inclusive education; Mrs. Haderer helped make that possible. I will never forget her kindness and willingness to help when no one else would.”