Always There: Peggy’s 44 Years
My career with the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities
It has been an honor and a privilege to work with the Allen County Board of Developmental Disabilities for the past 44 years. I began my career when Marimor School opened its doors on Ada Road in January 1974. Through the years, I have been the Home Arts Instructor, Special Olympics Cheerleading Coach, Behavior Support Specialist and Director of Education. I have enjoyed each role.
How did I get into this field?
When I entered college in 1970, I wanted to major in Elementary Education. I had always loved school, and it just seemed like the right fit for me. However, we were told at Freshman Orientation that there would not be enough jobs available for elementary school teachers. The university recommended we double major in either special education or a foreign language. I chose special education. While I was in college, I spent a summer working at Camp Robin Rogers. That was such a rewarding experience that I knew Marimor School was the place for me!
What has been the most significant change in that time?
I could write an entire book about all of the changes that have taken place since 1974. but three changes stand out that have improved education for our students.
Public Law 94-142
This law impacted students and families in several ways. The law stated that every student with a disability had the right to be educated in the Least Restrictive Environment. In addition, this law required the development of an IEP (Individualized Education Program) to identify each student’s unique instructional needs. Parents were given a method to appeal decisions.
In 1974, there were no computers or copying machines. Administrative staff and teachers used carbon paper and the infamous ‘ditto machine.’ Teachers could not search Pinterest or Google for teaching ideas. We had to be very creative! Students did not have access to assistive technology to help them communicate and learn.
When I started teaching, there was no curriculum. Teachers created their own teaching units and activities. In 2006, Marimor School collaborated with Kathy Staugler from the West Central Ohio Regional Special Education Resource Center and received an “Access to the Curriculum” grant from Ohio’s Department of Education. Our staff developed teaching units aligned with the content standards. Kathy used this research to help develop units for the Unique Learning Style curriculum. This curriculum is now used nationally. Students are assessed using the Alternate Assessment and other tools. This has definitely improved the instruction for our students.
My favorite memories
My favorite role during my years was teacher. I absolutely loved daily interactions with students and their families. Interacting with students is still the high point of my day. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to see a former student in the community. After 40 years, I get a hug and often a memory they have about school. Several years ago, one parent told me her son still talks about the overnights and annual cookouts we used to have for the high school students. She said that those are his fondest memories of school. In the spring, we would hold a cookout for high school students at one of our homes. It was really fun to host this event. One of the overnights was at the Girl Scout Camp. We kept the students after school on Friday. They prepared a spaghetti dinner and completed nature activities in the evening. After a campfire breakfast, they were excited to tell their families about ‘bunking down’ in the dorms. Several parents tell me that their children (now adults) still make foods that they learned to cook in Home Arts class. It’s nice to know I made an impact.
We have had many artists complete residencies at Marimor School through grants from the Ohio Arts Council and VSA Ohio. Hope Cauley, Vicki Ludwick and I have worked very diligently to bring artists to our school. These residencies bring out the many abilities of our students. The students blossom through the arts. Highlights of the residencies include Xpressfest, which has been held at Apollo for several years and is our current residency. Lyn Mulcahy from Lyn’s Academy of Dance also teaches weekly lessons to some of our students.