by Kenny Champion
Mrs. Pepper is a special education teacher who is currently co-teaching biology, and world History courses. She received her bachelor’s degree from Aquinas College in Education. She also graduated with honors with her master’s degree in the Arts of Teaching and Special Education at Aquinas College. We’ve decided to interview her and a few students Mrs. pepper has had a positive impact on.
How did you lose your hearing?
“I believe that I lost my hearing at birth from having jaundice as a baby. I was 18 months old when my family discovered that I could not hear. I was fortunate to having hearing aids to work for me and learned how to communicate with speech therapy as a child. Throughout my school career, I had to work harder to reach my goals but it has been truly rewarding. The power of positivity will get you far in life!”
What were some things you had to overcome when you started teaching?
“I had to learn how to use my resources and develop a network of support with students, colleagues, administrators, and parents. The communication barriers is always a challenge for me and it will never change. I learned the importance of being patient with others, being more confident, and using self-advocacy skills on a daily basis in order to be successful! I am truly blessed and fortunate to be a part of Grandville High School because people are protective and supportive of me. It’s like my extended family!”
How do you manage to teach classes with up to thirty students with your loss of hearing?
“I believe it’s a team effort with my students every year! I do my best to teach students that we are all here to help each other in this world, starting in our classroom. It is important for my students to be aware of my needs as a hearing impaired teacher and specific classroom expectations to run smoothly. Occasionally, some students will take advantage of my hearing impairment and try to get away with it. Most of my students are wonderful and always willing to be helpful! I also have incredible co-teachers in co-taught classes who also help manage the classes with me, I am very grateful for them!”
Did losing your hearing inspire you to get involved with Be nice club?
“Yes, a few years ago, I was asked to become an advisor and I was very honored to do it. Having a hearing impairment helps me use grit to overcome challenges so I try to share my experiences to reach out to everyone. Students who struggle with mental health are often silent so I hope to create more awareness to reach out to students who are struggling everyday.”
Does Be nice club allow you to help students who struggle with similar things ?
“Absolutely! It is all about empathy and spreading kindness to our community. Many people suffer with mental health issues that we don’t even know about and there are too many victims of bullying happening around us. It’s important to be aware to notice, invite, challenge, and empower. It’s incredible how powerful it is by simply “being nice” can impact everyone around you and can actually save lives!”
What’s your favorite memory with Mrs.Pepper?
Makayla Basman- “My favorite thing about Mrs.Pepper is that everyday, no matter what, she’s smiling and has a positive attitude.”
Jimmy Anglim- “I was standing next to the track uniform boxes, and as she was walking by me, I reached my hand out and scared her. We laughed so hard. I love Mrs.Pepper.”