Marietta Middle School student Genesis Juarez loves watching videos of her favorite boy band, Adexe y Nau, communicating with friends on Instagram and SnapChat, and socializing with her peers. Normal behavior for most teen girls her age, but something that takes a little more effort for a student with Cerebral Palsy (CP).
Cerebral Palsy is a condition that affects a person’s muscle tone and ability to coordinate body movements and control their muscles. Genesis requires a wheelchair and is only able to control her left leg and foot.
“Although CP impacts her speech, that hasn’t stopped Genesis from being able to communicate,” says Marietta Middle School teacher Susan Donlin. “With the use of communication software on a tablet, she can access the software she needs for class by either selecting the correct icons with her left big toe while the tablet is on an easel or by using a joy stick attached to her left foot plate.”
And her teacher also tells us that Genesis has a great sense of humor and enjoys making the other students laugh.
“Genesis’ positive spirit and perseverance are a daily inspiration to those lucky enough to know her,” said Donlin.
Genesis is bilingual and speaks Spanish to her family at home. The school downloaded the same communication software in Spanish on her personal device so that she can communicate more effectively with her family.
This effort is in line with services provided to students with special needs in the district through the Department of Special Services (DSS).
“Working closely with students, their parents and guardians, and educators, DSS works to create building blocks for successful students,” said Michele Bealing-Sayles, Assistant Superintendent of Special Services at MCS. “Through transition programs designed to provide soft skills, work, career, and employment-training opportunities, we want students like Genesis to graduate from high school better able to be successful citizens.”
DSS of Marietta City Schools serves 924 students with disabilities in grades Pre-school through 12, ages 3 through 22. MCS offers services in every area of exceptionality, including visual impairments, autism, blindness, deaf hard of hearing and learning disabilities. The district provides assistive technology at all grade levels, like the technology used by Genesis, enabling students to better participate in the general education setting
Marietta City Schools is using March 4-8, 2019, known as Exceptional Children’s Week across the country, to highlight our incredible and exceptional students and their teachers.