As the summer ends, one local teacher has trouble hearing the back to school bells
By Terry Miller
With Back to School and health care issues very much in the forefront of the news these days, it is incumbent on each of us to help our fellow man, especially when the local and/or federal government cannot or will not address some very basic needs.
It has come to our attention that one rather extraordinary individual, Judy Watkins, has been a devoted Special Education teaching assistant at Bradoaks Elementary School in Monrovia for the past 19 years. She now has some special needs of her own.
She works with kindergarten to third grade students with mild-moderate special needs along with teacher Ani Baker. Watkins is legally deaf and in desperate need of special hearing aids so she may continue when school starts August 16. At well over $6,000 this is no easy feat for this or any family.
As husband Eric explains, his wife’s hearing aid needs are a little more complicated regarding certain frequencies and thus not all hearing aids are created equal.
Enter Ani Baker. Baker decided that she needed to help her spirited assistant, fast. So, as many people do these days, she turned to the internet and GoFundMe. She set up an account detailing the accomplishments of this noteworthy woman and why it’s so imperative to get her back in the classroom with special, working hearing aids.
Judy was born with hearing loss and is legally deaf. She uses hearing aids in order to be able to successfully work in her Monrovia classrooms. Her hearing aids have miraculously lasted a couple years longer than they were designed to, but they’re fading fast, and she needs a new pair, pronto.
Not surprisingly, health insurance doesn’t cover the cost of medically necessary hearing aids… meaning that soon, without them, she won’t be able to keep her job. Her colleagues don’t want to let that happen and have started a fundraising effort in the form of a GoFundMe account. “She needs the children and the children need her,” Ani Baker told Monrovia Weekly.
We spoke with Judy’s husband, Eric on Monday evening. He illustrated how his wife devotes herself to the job and always goes above and beyond the call of duty. Watkins threw a ‘Polar Express’ party one Christmas, provided a bell for each student, individualized place settings complete with trays of hot chocolate. Eric came dressed up as The Conductor and fully played the part as any professional actor would. It should be noted here that both Watkins are talented artists and truly enjoy sharing their many gifts with the students at Bradoaks.
Yes, this is a family love affair with education. Judy and Eric Watkins are a team and bring that marvelous energy to Bradoaks students. From all accounts, Watkins colleagues agree that this woman has something very unique to offer her special education students.
While Judy’s particular story is rather exceptional, it is not uncommon to hear of educators spending a huge amount of time and their own money for the children with which they work daily. Many schools do not or cannot provide adequate art supplies to keep these young minds stimulated. Therefore these educators take it upon themselves to be proactive and supply the necessary items themselves.
In most schools, funding for the arts is the first to be cut at budget time. Therefore, many find the only way to stimulate their charges is to fund the projects themselves. This is exactly what Judy Watkins has been doing for 19 years.
With school bells set to go off in a couple of weeks, colleagues at Bradoaks hope to get Judy’s story out and help her achieve that basic goal of being able to really hear her students’ describe their summer vacations.
If you can help, go to the fundraising page started by Watkins’ colleague started.