Think back to your childhood. Was there a teacher or someone who made a lasting impact on you from your preschool or elementary school years? For a number of families in the Akron area, that someone is Stewart Preschool teacher’s aide, Christi. And making a difference in the lives of little ones with and without disabilities is her primary motivation.
“I have a passion for working with young kids who have disabilities,” stated Christi about her role at the preschool. Part of her passion for the kids comes from the connection she shares with them through her own disability. “I want kids to have the positive experience that I’ve had.”
Christi works at an inclusive preschool, meaning the classroom has kids with and without disabilities. She joined the preschool as the next step to complete her Child Development Associate (CDA) certification and gain full-time employment at a preschool setting.
“Christi is a person who genuinely cares for other people,” shared Christi’s Summit DD Service and Support Administrator, Alison Taylor. “People that know her admire her helpfulness, her kindness and her sense of humor.”
Alison is one of Christi’s biggest supporters. She also responsible for coordinating the services that Christi receives and creating the plan, called an ISP, which provides the blueprint for Christi to accomplish her goals. Her role is to connect Christi to the schooling and employment services that assist Christi to follow her dreams.
Alison shared an example of one time Christi’s kindness made a big difference in a family’s life.
“A while back, the mother of a little boy who has Autism in Christi’s class was sharing her concerns about her son’s future,” Alison recalled of the story. “The mother was talking to her about how worried she was that her son would never be independent, have a job or other things like that,” Alison continued. But little did the mother know, she was talking to just the right person!
Alison went on to tell the story of how Christi listened to the mother’s worry. She calmly asked the mother why she thought that? Christi then explained to the mom that she has Autism herself. The mother had no idea and proceeded to talk to Christi at length about her son and asked questions. Christi put the mother at ease by talking about her experiences, full life and how she is working toward her CDA certification. All of which were exactly the things the mom needed to hear at that moment in her child’s journey.
“I love that story,” Alison said passionately about Christi. “She is such an amazing person.” Christi just smiled humbly.
It’s in those moments, when you connect with someone who understands through their own experiences, that lasting impressions are made. The ability to give a worried parent of a child with a disability all the hope they need for their child’s bright future is priceless. It’s those moments that Christi also knows she has chosen the right path for her future.
Good luck with your future career, Christi! Based on your promising start, we know you’re going to continue to change lives of little ones AND their families for years to come.
Check out other inspirational people and their stories at SummitDD.org/My-Story.