Saturday, July 8, 2017

"The only disability in life is a bad attitude." Scott Hamilton

I enjoy stories of inspiration, especially when the stories are about  great things happening for kids with disabilities. And because I have so many readers who are teachers, I really like to share these stories. I have an inspirational story to share today!

It's summertime, and all kids love playing and cooling off in water parks.  Go to any water park and you will hear squeals of delight and shouts of laughter, along with wide grins that personify pure summer fun. But what about a child who has a disability, like being in a wheelchair?  Have you ever seen a water park for kids with physical challenges?

The devoted father of a girl named Morgan wanted his daughter to have the opportunity to enjoy a water park on a hot day, and after 3 years of planning and working with experts, Gordon Hartman of San Antonio made his dream for his daughter into a reality.  He built a 4 acre water park that can accommodate ALL kids - including those with physical challenges. And kids with challenges even get in free!

When I began my teaching career in 1974, students with special needs were not mainstreamed as they are today.  Many teachers were scared and nervous, as we had limited or no training for accommodating and helping our new students. My philosophy about teaching students with special needs was simple- they were all kids- so I gave them my best and  loved them all! When I had questions, like how to attach a writing contraption to the forearm and hand of a student who was a paraplegic, I asked the student to help me. (Not making a big deal made it easier for the student, and I told him that he needed to teach me!) 

Back then, and throughout my 37 year career,  I embraced my students with disabilities. In fact, they all taught me to be a better teacher.  My lip-reading, hearing impaired students made me slow my speaking pace; the students who were blind made me teach to more than the visual learners, my students with physical challenges and/or mental challenges made me rethink my material and methods so that every learner could be involved. And guess what?  Because I changed my teaching methods for a few, everyone in the classroom benefitted. So many terrific former students - who had problems I had never heard of and could barely pronounce - taught me many lessons about patience, perseverance, and the importance of a good attitude. 

I have always been an advocate for equal rights and opportunities for students, whether they be regular education or special education. Looking back, I can actually remember some of my first mainstreamed students wistfully saying they "Wish they could _____ (fill in the blank-the possibilities are endless)- like the rest of the kids."  

People like Gordon Hartman, who wanted his daughter to feel included and welcomed, are an inspiration. The world provides so many lessons to all of us. I hope you will take a moment to read about Morgan's Inspiration Island, named for his daughter.  The video clip and story are very inspiring! 

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. 
Rittman Publishing, LLC ®

Please invite Grady Gets Glasses (and me) into your school.  if you are not in the Pittsburgh area, we do virtual field trips with a group called Field Trip Zoom.  GRADY GETS GLASSES was the winner of Best New Children's Book 2016 from The Authors' Zone. For more information about The Authors' Zone, please visit  

Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER. Many colleges have made the book required readingSigned copies are available Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics. 

I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books.  Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self.  However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired! 

Elementary teachers in Western Pennsylvania and beyond - I am willing to come into your classroom in person or as a virtual field trip through a group called Field Trip Zoom.  Check them out! 

Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book.  I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading.  Please email me at  The website now has plush Grady bunnies for sale!

Please like Dede's new page Grady Gets Glasses for updates about her children's book. 

Connect with Dede!

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