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Kay Beck – Cedar Ridge Elementary

Ms. Kay Beck has been teaching children with special needs for 41 years. She began her career in the early 70’s when society was just beginning to believe that children with special needs could learn and be productive. Ms. Beck was one of those workers in the forefront of this concept. Currently Ms. Beck teaches Life Skills for grades 1 – 6 at Cedar Ridge Elementary in Cedar Hills. Her philosophy for teaching is that all kids can learn! She believes it and expects learning from her students. When Ms. Beck meets a student she doesn’t see the disabilities, she sees the potential for great abilities. She believes that kids with special needs are highly capable of great things. Ms. Beck hopes for great things in the future of her students. She doesn’t want them to grow up to watch TV and do only recreational activities. Ms. Beck wants them to be able to hold jobs and be productive members of society. Most of all, she loves her students. I know Kay Beck well because my daughter has been in her class since first grade. My daughter has Down Syndrome and is in 6th grade now. Because of Kay Beck, my daughter has a great love of reading. My daughter will read not only every book she can get her hands on, she reads every sign and piece of paper she sees and even the text messages on my phone when she gets a chance. She has learned so much in Ms. Beck’s class. But even better, we as parents have learned so much from Ms. Beck. One day I expressed a desire to teach my daughter how to ride a bike. My daughter struggled with the mechanics of pedaling the bike. Ms. Beck asked us to bring her bike to school. Every school day for two years, Kay would have my daughter ride her bike around the halls pointing out to her the muscles she needed to engage on each leg to get the full rotation of the pedals. More importantly she taught me the same thing so that I could work with her at home. Kay Beck encourages parents to allow their children to continue in their learning by saying, “Once she knows how to do it, don’t do it for her anymore.” We as parents have learned that we can expect the hopes and dreams we have for our special needs daughter because there are people out there, like Kay Beck, to help us help our daughter achieve her full potential.

–David and Karil Sweetwood and our daughter Jodie Sweetwood