Deafblind High School Teacher Making a Difference in Many Ways

Feb 29, 2016, 05:35 AM

The following podcast was recorded for use by customers of Minnesota’s State Services for the Blind. You can get more information about State Services for the Blind and the services it offers by going to www (dot) mnssb (dot) org. I’m Stuart Holland. (music)

Deafblind High School Teacher Making a Difference in Many Ways Jim Franklin, Special Education Teacher at Elm Street Elementary, Rom, Georgia, and Creator of Slid-a-Round Math Manipulatives. Dana Tarter, Special Education Teacher at Model High School in Rome, Georgia.

Dana Tarter, a high school life skills teacher at Model High School in Rome, Georgia, continues to put her philosophy of education into action by going to work every day with the belief that all students can learn. Teachers often share various reasons with parents, colleagues, and administrators as to why they chose their profession. Dana, for example, believes that it is a privilege to be a teacher and stresses the importance of setting daily goals to help her students move in a positive direction in life by focusing on important rigorous academic standards. Additionally, Dana focuses on incorporating valuable life skills in her lessons that cannot be taught from old school textbooks and are not included in the Common Core State Standards. At age 18, Dana continued her education and became an interpreter for a high school student that was deaf. To better serve the student and become a more effective teacher, she earned a Master’s in Education degree. For many years, she had been a deaf professional who had taught a wide range of students with physical, emotional, and academic deficits in inclusion, resource, and self-contained settings. In 2011, at age 38, Dana was diagnosed with Usher Syndrome, which is a relatively rare genetic disorder that is a combination of hearing loss and visual impairment. Despite the setback, Dana continued to serve her students despite being legally blind and deaf. In her classroom, Dana has always been proactive in solving her day-to-day professional demands and meeting her students’ physical, academic, and/or emotional needs. Dana’s disabilities are significant challenges that most people will never face. With her vision rapidly deteriorating, Dana voluntarily put herself on the fast track to learn Braille. Many people often say that life is about choices. In Dan’s situation, however, she never contemplated the “wait ‘til tomorrow” approach to learn Braille. There was an extreme sense of urgency to learn Braille for communication purposes AND to still be an effective teacher. In June 2012, Dana attended the 2012 Georgia Assistive Sensory Project Conference in Cave Spring, Georgia. With her friend Barbara, who was also her SSP, Dana attended the conference to help improve her instructional methods as well as find useful assistive technology. Dana and Barbara approached an exhibiter table, which was the first one on the right in the exhibit hall. Barbara began to sign in Dana’s hand to inform her that the math manipulatives for her students to use were also available in Braille. With Barbara’s assistance, Jim Franklin, an inclusion special education teacher from Elm Street Elementary in Rome, Georgia, and creator of Slide-a-Round Math Manipulatives, introduced himself and gave the background information of his math manipulatives. At the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year, Jim’s assistant special education director asked to observe his 4th grade math inclusion class. He welcomed the upcoming visit but wondered if any new strategies/interventions had been successfully implemented by other teachers with the concept of rounding whole numbers. He asked other math teachers in his school and searched for ideas on the Internet. He only saw blocks, dry erase markers and boards, and number lines. Other than those options, paper and pencil were the last resort. The last thing he wanted his visitors to observe were towers being built out of blocks, or off-task drawings o...