Thursday, February 29, 2024

WJCC Schools Supports Culture of Acceptance for All With Disabilities

panelists of the Disability Awareness Panel at the Williamsburg Regional Library (WYDaily/Jillian Appel)

WILLIAMSBURG– Williamsburg James City County Schools hosted a panel discussion on Mar. 16 to discuss students, parents, and faculty’s experiences with disability.

The panel opened with Dr. Rick Bowmaster, the Special Education Parent Resource Coordinator for WJCC public schools, welcoming the attendance of students, alumni, and parents alike. After Daria Lorio-Barsten, Project Specialist for William & Mary took the podium and began discussing some history of Disability Awareness Month.

Following, Bowmaster introduced the moderator for the event Dr. Adam Brown, the Director of Special Education for WJCC Public School, and a parent to a child with a disability. After touching on his own background and experiences, Brown began to introduce the panelists for the discussion as well as some about their backgrounds.

The panel included Liz Bahl-Moore an art teacher at Lafayette high school and alumni, Nicholas Bahl-Moore a junior with WJCC schools who was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, and Cora Smith a junior with WJCC and international recipient of the ‘Yes I Can’ award.

The panel also included input from Nicole Smith an early childhood teacher at Norge and mother of two children with Autism, Oliver McLaughlin a recent graduate of WJCC schools who was diagnosed with ADHD and an auditory processing disorder, Beth Haw who has over two decades of helping state and schools improving services for children with disabilities and has ADHD and Dyslexia.

The panelists discussed their individual experiences with a disability as well as thanking various people who have supported them through their highs and lows. Stress also emphasized how important it is for parents to advocate for their children to make sure they get the accommodations required.

WJCC schools will keep the dialog open on Thursday, Mar. 23, with I’m Determined’ guest speaker Traleya Eley at the Williamsburg Regional Library at 6:30 p.m.

In her own words, Eley will share her personal journey in education, while promoting self-determination for individuals with disabilities through this Virginia Department of Education-sponsored event.

 

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