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Morris School District

New Jersey News LetterJanuary/February 1987

 Special Kind Of Different

 A very special student attends Frelinghuysen Junior High School. Dawn Teresa Parkot, 15, teaches her teachers as they teach her. In the eighth grade and second year at Frelinghuysen, Dawn, who was born with Cerebral Palsy, has multiple handicaps. She is confined to a wheelchair and communicates through her homemade letter board and electronic communicator, an Express Three donated by the Junior League.

“Everyone who knows Dawn has been touched by her,” Ann McGiffin of the Child Study Team Comments, “her intelligence, humor and bravery in spite of all her physical discomforts are an inspiration for staff and students.” Mrs. McGiffin explains that the Child Study Team, with the strong support of the Supervisor of Pupil Services, Vince Telesco were pioneers in bringing a child with Dawn’s handicaps into a public school classroom. “It is testament to Mr. Telesco and the Frelinghuysen staff who were willing to provide Dawn with support and understanding.”

Dawn, a straight “A” student, is on the student council, writes for the school newspaper, the yearbook’s editor and plans to try out for the school’s production of the musical “Annie.” Her special education aide and good friend, Lydia Horen, accompanies Dawn to all her classes and reports that she is every teacher’s dream – a joy to teach.” Dawn’s electronic communicator is hooked up to a computer which allows her to print out written assignments.

One of her favorite teachers, Richard Davison who teaches English at Frelinghuysen, demands only the best from his special student who expresses aspiration to be a lawyer or writer. “My expectations are not diminished by her handicaps and she has met those expectations. She is a top student. Dawn is extraordinary in every sense.”

Social studies teacher, Jean Arlow, and computer literacy teacher, Mary Lu Danna are some of the teachers noted for making her school experience so positive. “I love them all,” she expresses.

As Mr. Davidson notes, “We’re done beautiful things for her and she’s done beautiful things for all of us. She truly belongs here.”