In memory of a special teacher
I heard the news Friday night, on a phone call with my son. He was browsing the internet and found a story about the passing of a woman he'd heard me talk about.
At the end of the past school year, I was able to volunteer for Mrs. Ann-Marie Young's eighth-grade special education class at Bay Middle School. Three residents of the Knickerbocker – myself, Lois Johnson and Frank Barkdoll – were asked by Mrs. Young if we would be willing to visit her classroom to give her students an opportunity to interact with older adults.
The class was working on a unit which helped the students become familiar with the Spanish culture, its people, customs, food and geography. We were to read the book "Shadow of a Bull" by Maia Wojciechowska. We discussed several chapters and worked on vocabulary words as well as the meaning of some simple Spanish words and phrases. Mrs. Young prepared samples of Spanish cuisine for each class period, giving each of us a taste of Spain.
I was shocked and saddened by the news of her untimely passing. Our community has lost a remarkable educator who gave so much to her students. She was a true role model.
In a letter to the district's staff after receiving word of Ann-Marie Young's death on July 31, Superintendent Clint Keener praised the intervention specialist as "a tireless advocate for her special education students. She won a number of grants that brought special programs in for them. ... Ann wanted to offer international experiences for her students that mirrored the opportunities their peers experienced in French or Spanish classes."
Mrs. Young was a delightful lady and a dedicated teacher. She encouraged her students to believe in themselves and promoted diversity and acceptance. She believed each person had special abilities and talents. Her students were well-behaved, curious and friendly.
I enjoyed my time in Mrs. Young's classroom and was considering volunteering in her classroom this fall. I had spoken of her to my son, also a special education teacher in Bedford, Indiana. I shared ideas I had gained from working with Mrs. Young's students and observing her teaching methods.
Lori Reynolds, a reading teacher at Normandy Elementary, was one of many fellow educators who remembered Ann-Marie in postings on the Bay Schools' Facebook page.
"My son had her and she really helped him to see all he could achieve, focus on his strengths, find his own ways to develop his weaknesses all while making him feel happy and proud of himself," Reynolds wrote. "As a parent and colleague I appreciated her honesty, creative ideas, and constant dedication and love to the children."
Lois Johnson, Frank Barkdoll and I join the rest of the community in expressing our deepest sympathy to Ann-Marie Young's family, her co-workers at Bay Middle School and her former students whose lives were so enriched having Mrs. Young as a teacher.