Oleck Wins Golden Apple

This week's Golden Apple winner teaches autistic children at Lucille Moore Elementary.

Sheryl Oleck was nominated by a parent who writes: She's amazing and me and my husband are actually able to have "conversations" with my son now who turned 6 in March and has autism. He didn't talk very much before her.

"She loves the kids. She is just a master teacher at what she does. She shapes behavior, she encourages language, because many of the children come with very little language. And it's just astonishing as we see the growth of these children through the year," Kathleen Schmidt, principal of Lucille Moore Elementary said.

"When we first started bringing him here in August he wasn't saying very much at all. And now when I pick him up every afternoon she brings him to me, he is telling me in almost full sentences how good his day has been and all the great things that he has learned. That means more to me than anything," Erica Brown, the mother of an autistic child, said.

"Everything is done language-based. Most of our students come and they are not able to speak in complete sentences or they can speak but can't carry on interactions so in everything that we do, whether it is in eating or whether it is in daily actions or interactions with other people or peers, we just do everything that we can to help them and bring that language out," Ms. Oleck said.

"I like my teacher!"

"The first time a parent comes to tell me that their child spoke to them or said something to them or they could actually communicate with their child, that shows me that what we are doing in the classroom is working and it is very exciting for myself and the parent," Ms. Oleck said.

"You don't know what it means to a family with a special needs child," Brown said.

"Each child has the potential to exceed any expectation that you put in front of them," Ms. Oleck said.

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