I was privileged to meet Hunter and her mother early in Hunter's elementary school career. As a young elementary student and throughout her middle-school years, Hunter was masterful in her ability to educate other students and school faculty about her disease. She continues to play an important "educator" and self-advocacy role at Pittsburgh CAPA 6-12 with the assistance and support of her mother. Her upfront, direct approach in describing her medical fragility along with her engaging personality clearly has had a significant impact on her classmates' understanding as to how Hunter's disability impacts her daily academic and social life in the classroom and in the community.
Hunter, her mother and the entire Steinitz family embody the spirit of how students with disabilities and medical fragility can successfully reach their potential in school and be contributing members of their community. I applaud the school district staff who have made the school experience for Hunter both academically and socially "welcoming." Finally, kudos to the classmates and friends of Hunter who, as a result of their positive interactions and friendships with Hunter, have a deeper understanding of what it means to honor and celebrate diversity in the school district.
As a former district administrator, I have benefited personally and professionally from knowing and learning from Hunter and her mom; I look forward to celebrating the many successes of this awesome young woman at her high school graduation in 2012!
J. KAYE CUPPLES
The writer is the retired executive director for student services and special education for the Pittsburgh Public Schools.