North Penn Special EDition
Volume 2 Issue #2                                                                                    May 2016

Director's Corner:
What Could Happen if You Gave Someone a Chance? 
"I got in!" exclaimed North Penn High School's own, Rachel Grace, as she opened her college acceptance letter in a video that went viral last month, reaching millions of viewers across the globe.  Rachel, a vivacious young woman with Down Syndrome, garnered international attention and support for her future endeavors in the Career, Independent Living & Learning Studies (CILLS) program at East Stroudsburg University.
       
Yet despite the overwhelmingly positive feedback Rachel received, questions emerged on social media. Some questions were posed tactfully, and others thoughtlessly, regarding how an individual with Down Syndrome could possibly attend college.  While I encourage you to read more about the wonderful CIILS program Rachel will be joining in the fall, this situation begs a greater question...Is it really that hard to believe that someone with a disability could make something out of her life?   This question makes us uncomfortable, yet it is worthy of consideration. How might we, as educators, need to challenge our own belief systems?
       
While Rachel's determination and hard work undoubtedly contributed to her success, she is also a shining example of what can happen when educators and families work together to help students achieve their goals.  Rachel's teachers and parents believed in her, encouraging her to pursue her dreams of going to college, living independently, and working.  Rachel was afforded something very powerful - a chance.  A chance to believe that she too had something to offer the world.  A chance to shatter the stereotypes.  A chance to live beyond the limits set by society.
       
This issue of the Special EDition highlights the best of what North Penn has to offer - our students.  These current students and alums are the products not just of hard work, but of the people who believed in them.
       
What could happen if you gave someone a chance?


Jenna Mancini Rufo
Director of Special Education and Student Services

Rachel's Remarkable Journey

Rachel Grace, who served as manager of the North  Penn  girls' basketball team the past three years, capped a  remarkable journey with her acceptance into the CILLS  program at East Stroudsburg University.  Rachel's mother,  Deb, attributes Rachel's success to  hard work and "never  cutting her a break due to her disability."  Mrs. Grace  believes  that amazing teachers and an inclusive school  community were key factors in  Rachel's progress,   beginning with her inclusion in  general education classes at Montgomery Elementary School years ago.  Click here to learn more about Rachel and hear her story as told by Suburban One Sports.

Looking Back and Moving Forward:
Peter's Reflections

North Penn High School senior, Peter Jaskiewicz, reflects fondly on his school experience.  He cites highlights as the fun he had with friends, his participation in clubs and activities, and attendance at football games, the senior prom, and other school events.  Peter recalls the challenges of AP classes and research papers, but knows he is leaving high school prepared for college and beyond.  While many of Peter's reflections are typical of graduating seniors, unlike most of his peers, Peter navigated his high school experience with a diagnosis of autism. Click here to read more.

Working His Connections: Rahul's Story


Radio is clearly a big part of Rahul Thevar's life.  Rahul, a North Penn High School alum, co-hosts his own radio show every Wednesday at Montgomery County Community College where he is pursuing a communications degree.  While Rahul is humble about his involvement with the radio, his peers and program director credit him with helping MontCo Radio achieve the "Outstanding Program of the Year" award for involvement with the Anti Bully Squad. Rahul indicated that he always knew what he wanted to pursue communications, and credits the North Penn High School transition teachers with helping him follow his dreams. Read more about Rahul's story.
Frankly Speaking: 
Reflections on Independence
By Frank D'Silva
   
My name is Frank D'Silva, and I am an alumnus of the Class of 2010. I am fortunate to work at two jobs. I work full-time at D.i.D. which stands for Direct Image and Design Studio. D.i.D. is a healthcare advertising agency. I am an office assistant, and I have I worked there for 6 years.  I make sure everything is well-stocked, I set up conference rooms for meetings, I take monthly inventory, and I coordinate the lunch club. I also work part-time at Giant Food Store as a service associate...I am successful at my job because my job is important to me. I work hard and follow the rules.  I always get to work on time.  I like being independent. Read on for Frank's reflections on independence.
Transition to Adult Life
By Megan Jermain, NPHS Teacher

"What do you want to be when you grow up?'  It's a question that every child has the right to dream about.  The North Penn High School Transition Office exists to help students in cultivating a response to this question. To learn more about the transition services offered at North Penn, click here.                                                                          

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