Christy Chapman has a passion for helping students who are deaf or hard of hearing understand how and why to use amplification devices.
This support breaks down barriers to learning and helps the students excel in class.
Chapman has been the audiological technician for San Diego County Office of Education's (SDCOE) East County Special Education Local Plan Area, or SELPA, for 13 years and has worked for SDCOE for more than 15 years. She is also this year's SDCOE's Classified Employee of the Year.
"Without Ms. Chapman's diligence, our students would have gaps in their learning due to diminished or absent auditory access to instruction," said Mary Brewer, an itinerant teacher with the SELPA.
Chapman works with about 200 students from birth to age 22 in 11 school districts and supports five itinerant teachers and three audiologists who work for the SELPA.
"She truly has a gift for working with everyone — students and adults — no matter the needs," said Heather DiFede, senior director of the East County SELPA.
Interim Superintendent Edward Velasquez surprised Chapman with the good news Feb. 24. She said the recognition was overwhelming and humbling.
"I'm very grateful for all of the people I work with," she said. "I couldn't imagine working for a better group of people."
Chapman said she first became interested in working with people with hearing loss when she was a teenager. While on a youth group retreat, she met a girl who was deaf and Chapman was frustrated that she couldn't communicate with her. She vowed then to learn sign language.
Chapman's commitment to her field and to her students is unparalleled, DiFede said.
"It is a passion that she takes seriously," DiFede said. "She is constantly seeking out new information and truly is the epitome of a continuous learner."
That passion extends beyond the work day, too. Chapman volunteers for community events to help engage students with hearing loss.
"She's like Superwoman," said Gaby Beas, last year's Classified Employee of the Year and a member of this year's selection committee. "From what everybody wrote about her, it really shows how much she cares for her students."