Her way of reading stories is not traditional. But traditional is still a concept that’s in the process of forming for this age group. Using a head switch connected to the computer, Ms. Mallory clicks the switch at the end of each pre-recorded page. The switch turns the page on the computer screen and signals a “beep.” The beep cues the 4-year-old page-turner, and the recorded voice simultaneously reads the new page.
The second book “Clifford, The Big Red Dog,” comes to a close. Story time is over. There’s a rush to Ms. Mallory – kids anxious to show the morning’s groundhog artwork.
There was a time, not too far back, when work for Mallory hadn’t been on the table. But to Sandy, an employment specialist with Realizations, it made all of the sense in the world. After all, Mallory is a young adult, and work is one of the things that happen for most young adults during the day. Mallory didn’t know what she wanted to do. So Sandy devoted time with Mallory — determined to discover her talents and interests.
Over time, it became apparent to Sandy that little ones were interested in Mallory, and Mallory was clearly amused by them. Sandy arranged to visit a childcare center, Kids’ Haven by Sandy, (no affiliation with Sandy the employment specialist) offering to perform a needs analysis – unobtrusively learning about what happens and looking for unmet needs. And if unmet needs are found, Sandy will suggest a solution. As things turned out, the teachers were frustrated that there were not enough hands on deck to read to the children as much as is desirable.
The rest is history. A customized job was negotiated for Mallory. Children get to hear more books. Mallory gets a job working with kids. And kids get to know Ms. Mallory, a teacher who reads aloud in a non-traditional way.
It’s important to note, that this is the beginning of Mallory’s employment story. Many chapters are still to be written. Mallory and Sandy are exploring additional employment, perhaps doing something similar to her work at Kids’ Haven by Sandy, or perhaps something different.
Lessons learned: 1) Employment is important for everyone to consider. 2) Kids are always learning something. Who belongs and who doesn’t. Who is like me, and who is different? Whom should I share my things with, or not? Little people can be immune to big people’s prejudice, if introduced in a positive way to people, who for instance, read stories aloud in a non-traditional way. 3) Much learning is going on when Ms. Mallory is working — important learning for everyone involved.