I was born sixty-five years ago in Frankfort, Kentucky. I was a preemie and stayed in the hospital for two months. I had two older brothers and a younger sister. Bless my mother’s heart, four kids under six.
I talked gibberish and my parents weren’t too concerned until my sister started talking like me. I was diagnosed with apraxia which according to www.asha.org
“ is a motor speech disorder. Children have problems saying sounds, syllables, and words. This is not because of muscle weakness or paralysis. The brain has problems planning to move the body parts (e.g., lips, jaw, tongue) needed for speech.”
Off I went to the University of Kentucky Speech Clinic.
They were able to correct the apraxia.
Soon thereafter, my family moved to Troy, Ohio. I went to a Catholic school and had the lazy /r/, which proved a challenge with all the nuns. We returned to Frankfort for most holidays.
I went to Eastern Kentucky University and majored in Elementary/Special Education. It was a suitcase school then. I didn’t want to go home every weekend so I joined a sorority to have a reason to stay on campus and to make friends. I still stay in touch with many of them forty years plus later.
My first job was as a special needs part time preschool teacher. After, a year or so, I decided to pursue a graduate degree in Curriculum and Supervision at Wright State University. I received assistance with the costs and worked in the teacher certification office.
My first full-time position was as a special education teacher in a small rural primary school. I worked with really great kids and made strong friendships. I had started running for exercise and one day didn’t stretch properly. The pain started at school and got progressively worse pain as the day went on. Off and on through the years, I had incidents with a twist, turn or reach that involved back pain,
The Blizzard of 1978 precipitated a move to Arizona. I worked with a consortium that included Phoenix High School and the thirteen feeder elementary schools as a Coordinator of Special Education. I worked with all the Directors of Special Education and learned a lot. I then became an Assistant Principal in several different inner city schools in Phoenix. During this time, I had injured my back enough to require a laminectomy to relieve my pain. I then became a Special Education Regional Director of the largest school district in Arizona.
I had the privilege of starting the first Traumatic Brain Injury program in Arizona, along with a Bilingual Special Education program. In the meantime, I wanted to be a principal and thought a doctorate would help. I started courses at Northern Arizona University in Educational Leadership.
I wanted children and at 45 I decided to adopt a child from China. The preparation took several months. Just before my mom and I were scheduled to go, I developed back pain that got rapidly worse. I had a rather long, slow growing malignant tumor on my spinal cord removed. What a shock to discover you have cancer that has just been removed.
It did not affect the adoption and we left for China to receive my baby. There was even a little time for some sightseeing.
We were in China during a very historic moment for them. Behind Mom and I is the countdown in Tiananmen Square when China would regain control of Hong Kong Raising Meg my earlier preschool experiences came in handy. Meg had been severely neglected so she had physical and emotional issues to overcome. I learned a lot through our journey. She was just as much as a blessing to me as I was to her.
I moved back to Ohio for Meg to meet family and because of my cancer scare. I was a principal at a K-6 school for three years before the weather drove me back to Arizona.
Now my journey continues….