Timotheus Gordon and his new friend, Shanae Heard, want people with disabilities to be heard, seen, and read. Last November, they began Abilitysota.com, a website for people with disabilities to showcase writing, poetry, music videos, photography, drawings, and paintings.
“We are (technically called) the Abilities of the Arts, or Abilitysota,” said 25-year-old Gordon in a telephone interview. Gordon and Heard met in June 2011 while both were trying to submit work for an online magazine. They enjoyed talking about poetry and work, and realized creative people with disabilities had few platforms to showcase their talents.
Gordon lives in Atlanta, Ga., and has nearly completed a master of fine arts degree at Savannah College of Art and Design and already has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota.
So what are their disabilities? Gordon said, “I have been diagnosed with high-functioning autism. I make good grades in school and have strong interests in social science, literature, poetry, and football. When I was growing up in Chicago, people would treat me like I was an encyclopedia. They would go to me for questions and would use me for my intelligence. But I didn’t make friends easily and I often got teased for being smart.”
He said he has always wanted to fit in socially, but either didn’t know how, or didn’t know the right way for a particular situation. He has had difficulty finding people with common interests who will accept him.
His friend Heard was born with cerebral palsy, uses a wheelchair, and is “very bright,” said Gordon. “She loves psychology, and can see problems from more angles than the average person.”
“We have been getting good responses,” he said, referring to the website. “People like the concept. Our struggle has been in getting more content. We feature photos, paintings, drawings, videos, poetry, and different kinds of writing, such as short stories and blog postings of writing.”
Abilitysota.com, also has actively promoted krip-hop, which is a style of hip-hop music performed by people with disabilities.
The last several months have brought him joy. He said, “With the website, I like seeing people from not only the U.S., but also England, speaking out. They are using their abilities and talents to open people’s eyes that people with disabilities are just as talented as anyone else and can be just as influential as an able-bodied person.”
Contact: daniel j vance.com, [Sponsored by Palmer Bus Service and LittleGiantFudge.com]
Testing and Accountability:
Most of us agree that students are tested too much. Public schools in Minnesota are required to administer the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA). The MCA tests were introduced as a paper and pencil test administered in reading, language arts and math. Recently, the assessments have slowly progressed toward computer completion aligned with the Science MCA. Embedded in the MCA tests are the GRAD tests that students must pass to receive their diploma. Students take the MCA tests in the spring and the results are returned at the end of the summer. A common concern is that MCA tests provide no real-time information for teachers to customize their teaching, therefore, requiring many districts to pay for Aimsweb, Scantron, MAP or NWEA assessments taken on the computer. We currently use Aimsweb in the primary grades, and NWEA assessments at various grade levels throughout the district to provide ongoing monitoring of student progress. These tests are computer adaptive, meaning the questions progressively get harder or easier depending on the student’s answers. Teachers get immediate results and know exactly where each student is at.
“Two wrongs don’t make a right, but three lefts do.” – Eric Parslow
Whether you’re turning a corner or signing your name, being left is hardly ever right. That’s because lefties are in the minority. Only about 10 percent of the population is left-handed.
At my house that computes to one out of six. Some of the time. More on that later.
Sequestration – What is It?
Words do matter. Merriam-Webster.com, defines the word “sequester” to mean to set apart or segregate - like a jury being sequestered during a trial. The word also has a meaning in law related to assets being held during a dispute. Both of these definitions are helpful when thinking about the implications of the most recent inaction of Congress and the president regarding the federal budget.
The warrior enters the arena prepared for battle, or at least an extensive period of intense physical, mental and vocal workout. She has marched to a similar beat on previous occasions and knows the drill as well as any sergeant. This is no rookie, but a seasoned veteran, ready to hit the bleachers with her backside and scream her lungs out for the team.
She is a sports mom, serving on the front lines as her offspring’s number one fan.