As today marks the beginning of Jewish Disabilities Awareness and Inclusion month, Susan C. Ingram’s cover story looks at how education for students with learning differences has changed over time. She focuses particularly on Shemesh, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore, which has been supporting Jewish children in this space for the last decade.
As you’ll read, the landscape has changed quite a bit for children with disabilities and the organizations that serve them. For example, rather than consign children with different learning styles to separate classrooms, students are in the mainstream population whenever possible, and get extra help as needed. Everything from professional development to psychological evaluations have advanced, giving students and educators more resources in an area that is thankfully increasingly destigmatized.
As a 24-year-old woman with dyslexia told the JT, “I honestly can say without the support I received from Shemesh, as well as other programs and tutoring I received, I would not be where I am today.” That woman has a master’s in education and now works with students who need help like she did.
At least one advocate sees the change in approach paying off. Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, president of Rockville-based RespectAbility, says Jews with disabilities are starting to move into positions of leadership within the Jewish community. “Talented and committed Jews want to serve,” she said.
Elsewhere in the community, Baltimore County Councilman Izzy Patoka (D-District 2) attended his first townhall forum with County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr., where they heard from residents concerned about the Pikesville Armory, Section 8 housing, traffic calming and a variety of other issues. As Connor Graham reports, Patoka found the meeting informative, and is already making moves on issues constituents brought to his attention.
In business news, Susan reports on the unfortunate news that Courtney’s Bagel Café & Deli in Owings Mills closed this week after two decades in business, as its owner moves on. Courtney’s was a gathering place for the Jewish community, where employees were part of the extended family who knew your name and your order. We’ll miss them!
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