By: Evan Wechman
Most families of special needs children recognize that in order for their loved ones to learn, they need to be surrounded by great professionals. The Morristown School District is no different. Throughout the school system, there are many loving educators whose work often goes unnoticed, but is nothing short of miraculous.
The play, “The Miracle Worker,” is a widely known story based on the true relationship between Helen Keller and her dedicated teacher, Annie Sullivan. Annie helps Helen who is blind and deaf, but also assists her parents in showing them how to get the most progress out of Helen.
According to Jen Frantz, who is a member of the Morristown Theater Parent Association, ” as the parent of a child with autism in the district, I was very drawn to the dynamic between Annie and Helen’s parents. Helen’s parents feel helpless with a blind and deaf child, so they give Helen anything she wants and require very little of her. She eats with her hands and throws tantrums. It is a tremendous teacher, Annie Sullivan, who shows them that with their help, Helen can do more, learn more, and be a productive member of society. It reminded me of what all of the special education teachers and therapists did for my son and family. I wondered if we could honor some of those people in connection with the show.”
Therefore, after Frantz who is in charge of publicity and marketing for the group talked to both students and teachers, she created an honoree nomination form. This was sent to families in the district as well as posted on various district web pages and social media sites. They received 26 nominations which ran the gamut from behaviorists to pathologists. Along with the play which was performed at Morristown High School on Friday November 22 through Sunday November 24th, there was also a reception before the Friday night show honoring these nominees.
At this reception, the honorees were presented with both a small gift and a certificate. Also, their biographies and pictures will be seen by all in the atrium. Unfortunately, not all the award winners could be contacted for comment and profiled in this publication, but there are some that stood out.
For example, Heather Delillo, an Assistant Behavior Specialist at Morristown High School, has helped students to participate in unified track, bowling, and swimming. She proudly states “the most fulfilling job is waking up each morning knowing that I can make a difference in the lives of students. Whether it is a warm smile or a gentle hello, just letting the students know they matter is a treasure in itself. Spending time every day with amazing coworkers and staff makes my job that much more fulfilling.”
Jen Beeck, a Speech Language Pathologist at Hillcrest Elementary has also done outstanding work with the students and acknowledges her favorite part of the job is “helping students find their voice and guide them to be their very best.”
Students also were acknowledged by various parents in the district for their assistance with the production. Emily Hyman, a tenth grade student and Special Events Chairperson helped plan the reception, write biographies, and print certificates.
The Morristown Theater Parent Association as well as the entire district is feeling great with the response from the events. Vicky Bashant, president of the theater group said “when the directing team chose The Miracle Worker as our fall production, we knew spotlighting the miracle workers in our district was something that had to be done.” She added “we sent info out district wide not knowing the support we would receive from families and the district. The ceremony was touching and a beautiful honor for the 26 teachers.”