Goshen is important to me for many reasons.
When my son was born 14 years ago, I was a single mom who had great extended family support. Then, I learned that my son, Ethan, had a rare genetic disorder called Angelman Syndrome. Thanks to a local family physician, my family, and First Steps (a program that offers services to young people with developmental disabilities), we were able to get support for Ethan that I didn’t even know existed.
I was 20 at the time. I decided that I needed to go back to college and finish my degree in order to secure a great job that offered the benefits and resources I would need to provide for Ethan.
At the time, I was working in the order entry department at a local factory. The management accommodated my college schedule, knowing that I was going to school for an education degree. They allowed me work from home and work during summers, and supported my schedule. I will always be grateful to them.
Ethan and I were invited to be a “focus family” for the United Way Live United Campaign in 2009. Healthy Families, an organization funded through the United Way, played a part in Ethan’s diagnosis and support.
I worked hard to earn my bachelor’s degree, and afterward began teaching at Goshen Middle School. I was even lucky enough to teach my favorite grade – seventh – and my favorite subject, social studies.
Ethan was receiving help, I had reached my goal, and I finally felt accomplished. However, I wasn’t finished. With encouragement from family and colleagues, I continued with college while working full time, and eventually earned my master’s degree. This enabled me to apply for a Master Teacher position in Goshen Community Schools. Working with GCS students in all contents and at all levels was a fantastic challenge that I absolutely loved. But that wasn’t enough, and I have since earned my administration license. I am now Dean of Students (actually the seventh-grade assistant principal) of Goshen Middle School.
Ethan is now an eighth-grade student at the middle school and is working with his teachers to learn communication skills on his iPad.
Daily, I have interactions with students, teachers, and parents that remind me of the amazing community in which we live. People in Goshen care. They help others, and guide and mentor people. When Ethan and I go to the store, there is always someone there who knows him and says hello.
All in all, were it not for the amazing community we live in, my life and Ethan’s may not have ended up this way. I also want people to know that even when the circumstances are difficult, hard work and perseverance can go a long way.
Good of Goshen story and photo submitted by Tami Hicks
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