Sam F has been my son’s teacher since last September. He is 9 years old, autistic and non-verbal, and an extremely challenging student! School has always been a major challenge for him...

Sam F has been my son’s teacher since last September.  He is 9  years old, autistic and non-verbal, and an extremely challenging student! School has always been a major challenge for him - just getting him to go has always been a struggle in itself, the thought that he might actually one day enjoy it, participate willingly and be eager to learn seemed an impossibility. But that has completely changed since “Miss Sam” has become his teacher. I’m not sure where to even begin to say how much she has impacted his life. I can honestly say that I feel that our entire outlook on his academic career has changed thanks to Miss Sam. It has been very tough to have high expectations of him, being low-functioning autistic, non-verbal, with limited communication skills and some cognitive challenges. Thanks to Miss Sam, we now have higher hopes for him than ever that with the right teacher, in the right environment, he is capable of so much more than we ever hoped for. From day 1, she has found ways to reach him that no other teacher has ever been able to do.  She has a warm enthusiastic nature that her students - even the most difficult ones - immediately respond to. She has created a positive environment for all of her students where they feel comfortable and have the ability and desire to learn at their own pace and in their own way. Miss Sam possesses all the great qualities of an amazing teacher - she is smart, kind, patient, caring and nurturing, and my child is thriving in school for the first time ever with  her as his teacher. Antonio is a very sensitive child with a great deal of sensory issues.  He often cannot tolerate noises or other activities. Miss Sam has worked hard to create a safe space for him - his own little corner with family photos and his favorite toys and security items - offering this to him when he needs the break - but has managed to get him to be willing to join the group and participate a little bit at a time. With her guidance and encouragement, he has gone from spending most of the day alone and isolated, to sitting at the group table and participating in group activities and lessons more and more. She is constantly looking for new strategies to and ideas to help motivate him and help him learn. In the past certain learning techniques were attempted, and when they weren’t successful, I was told “they tried, but it just didn’t work with [my son].” WIth Miss Sam, if one method doesn’t work, she never stops there, it’s always “this wasn’t successful, but I have an idea - we’re going to try something else”. She works tirelessly to continue to come up with new ideas and strategies. She works closely with his other teachers and therapists to devise the best approach. Miss Sam makes the school days interesting and motivating for her students to want to learn. I know that each and every one of her students is special to her and she treats them as individuals. She is extremely dedicated and giving of her time - we speak daily - often in the evenings and on the weekends. I have never been made t feel so comfortable reaching out to a teacher - she is always approachable and available. With Miss Sam, I feel so confident that we are indeed a team and both equally determined and motivated to best meet my child’s needs. I truly believe that one great teacher can have a lasting impact on a child’s life, and I know that Samantha F has been that for us. 

 

Denise M

(Mother of a 9 year old student at The Shore Center)