A third-grade student from Santee was recently featured in a national magazine for students with hearing loss thanks to the help and encouragement from a San Diego County Office of Education employee.
Kristina, an 8-year-old student from Rio Seco Elementary, is on the cover of the spring edition of Hearing Our Way and included in a feature about how she has overcome obstacles to become a young tennis champ. She is completely deaf without her cochlear implants.
Her support teacher, Mary Brewer, told her about the magazine and inspired her to submit information for the article. Brewer said she has tried to encourage many of her students to submit articles to the magazine, but when she found out that this season's issue would focus on sports, she knew it would be perfect for Kristina.
"It was a big deal for her," Brewer said. "She was so excited."
Kristina has played tennis since she was 3-years-old and has won trophies and medals at various tournaments over the years. She trains six times a week with her dad. When she grows up, she wants to play professionally.
"I like how you run on the court and hit the balls," she said. "It makes me excited and happy."
She also enjoys playing soccer and ping pong.
Kristina said she was thrilled to be included in the magazine and that she hopes it will inspire others to submit their stories. She enjoys reading the magazine to find out what other students with hearing loss are doing.
Brewer has taught and supported Kristina since she was 3-years-old. The former SDCOE teacher of the year works with about 60 students in Santee and La Mesa who are deaf or hard of hearing. She is an itinerant teacher, which means she visits other teachers' classrooms to help teach students with special needs. This can include teaching individualized lessons, conferring with the classroom teacher, collaborating with other teacher specialists, providing resources and training, addressing glitches with equipment, ensuring the students are understanding lessons, and teaching students self-advocacy skills.
"I'm teaching the life skills," Brewer said. "I'm teaching them to accept who they are and to build self-confidence and self-esteem needed for my students to become happy and successful adults."