Sharing life alongside people with and without developmental disabilities at L'Arche Tahoma Hope Home in Tacoma inspired Lisa Villano '06 to embrace a career in special education.
"It can be easy to under-recognize the significance of cultural differences in the classroom," she shared at the recent Krista Foundation conference. To better understand and support her Native Alaskan students in Fairbanks, Alaska- and to avoid misinterpreting their behaviors- Lisa works hard to understand her own culture and perspective.
"For example, I instinctively expect a student to make eye contact. To me, it shows respect. But in many Native Alaskan cultures, to show respect a child should look away. If I don't know my own cultural tendencies and am not open to other perspectives, I disempower my student." By supporting her students' strengths and needs and equipping them with tools they need to navigate the world, she hopes her students will get the high quality of life that they- and all kids- deserve.