Wed. Jul 6th, 2022

On September 11 2010, West Chester University celebrated the heroes whose voices are rarely heard throughout the campus and are sometimes undermined by those who deem them “incapable of greatness.” The special education department hosted a “Students with Disabilities” panel. The panel was for a graduate class that was studying special education; however, other students came to support friends or gain an extra credit or two. Those students may have came for those reasons, but they left with a perspective that changed their views of both their friends and fellow peers with disabilities.

Those that were involved in the panel were senior special education majors Brittany Kline and Marly Schloss, as well as a local student from Kennett High School named Janine. All three students have disabilities and all three of them have beaten the odds and erased the stereotypes that come with having a disability.

Dr. Kim Doan planned and hosted the panel. The three students were given the chance to speak about their diagnosis and experience with their individual disabilities.

Schloss was diagnosed with a learning disability at a young age but that did not stop her from branching out in the world.

“I started out in public school. Everything was going great until the third grade when my learning disability in reading kind of went downhill.”

Schloss remembers being pulled out of class by a resource teacher at an early age. The resource room that Schloss was being put in to improve her learning was helping.

“The problem was, it wasn’t helping my learning disability and they didn’t know what to do.”

Schloss under went many tests to try to figure out what to do about her learning disability. Schloss later enrolled in a private school that focused on children with learning disabilities.

“I was able to overcome my learning disability. I was able to not be afraid to ask for help or be afraid to admit my learning disability,” Schloss said.

With Schloss’ strength and perseverance, she was able to ace the SATs and was accepted into West Chester University. Schloss will graduate with a degree in education and Special Education at the end of fall 2010.

Kline has a learning disability as well. She went through the public school system and felt that her teachers always supported her.

“My disability, they could never really pinpoint it because there were so many tests,” she said.

Kline was originally diagnosed with A.D.D. but when she did not respond to medication, they dismissed the problem. She was diagnosed in 3rd grade with a learning disability.

“I have a lot of problems with reading comprehension,” she said.

Kline spoke of spending a lot of time in the resource room but also added that her schools were all inclusive with their students. She felt that being pulled out of a classroom was not embarrassing but supportive.

“My fellow students were very supportive of me,” Kline said. “I have this learning disability and I think it is very important to take ownership of your disability because why not? It’s a part of you but it is not who you are.”

Kline beat all the odds and was even inducted into the National Honor Society for students with disabilities, Delta Alpha Pi.

Janine, a student at Kennett High School, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at a young age. She finds that having a disability helps her reach out to her fellow students with disabilities.

“If a kid is scared to ask a teacher for help, I usually ask the teacher myself for them or cheer the student on to ask for help themselves,” she said.

Janine doesn’t find many things too challenging; she still finds a way to live life to the fullest.

“I want to be either a doctor or a lawyer. If I became a doctor, I would want to do research on cerebral palsy so that I could help in the future,” continuing that this doesn’t mean that she doesn’t face any challenges. “The main things you knew how to do, I didn’t.”

Janine has difficulty with walking up and down stairs and has difficulty in participating in gym, but that doesn’t stop her from trying hard.

This year, Janine made the Girls’ Tennis team at Kennett.

All three students have reached higher goals than anticipated. Schloss gives good advice to fellow students, teachers, and friends.

“Don’t assume a person can’t do the work. Let them try to do the work.”

Schloss and Kline take their personal experience with a learning disability and plan to apply it to their future careers.

“I feel like my teachers did the best for me. I hope to be there for my students as well” says Kline.

Janine hopes to blend in as any other student. “I feel like I should be treated like a normal student.”

These students have surpassed even their own expectations. There is no doubt that they will succeed in the future and be role models for those who do not understand their disabilities just yet.

Angela Thomas is an English major who can be reached at AT683005@wcupa.edu.

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