TROY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Ann Nobis helped start one of the area’s first integrated preschools for children with special needs and those without at Pinewoods Center in Troy three decades ago.
Brianne Nobis, a 37-year-old with Down syndrome, lives on her own in Guilderland, was taught to dream big.
“I’m working, I have this great apartment and I have a fabulous mother.”
Her mom Ann spent 35 years as a speech and language pathologist. She learned school inclusion with rich communication is vital to kids with delays.
“It gave them a more positive consistent role model in order to follow, emulate, and learn from.”
Ann switched Brie’s school after kindergarten so she’d be mainstreamed. In fifth grade, she was self-contained and regressed.
“She wasn’t reading chapter books anymore; she was reading one line per page books.”
From then on, Ann insisted on integration. Today, Brie works full time as a clerk for the New York Office of Children and Family Services, is active at church, enjoys family and friends and wrote a self-advocate book.
Ann then helped other parents, like Patrice Van Heusen trying to keep their kids mainstreamed.
“I’ll be forever thankful for Ann because Tim is in 9th grade now and Ann was such a source of strength for me, all the way through.”
Creating countless visuals for Tim, Ann made abstract lessons easier to grasp.
“[In] third grade, you didn’t really understand what that meant.”
Ann encourages parents to work with teachers to simplify lessons and use other students as peer models.
Now in high school with Shenendehowa schools, Tim is still mainstreamed with a school aide and special ed teachers assisting him.
“There’s always another strategy. I could call Ann tomorrow and she could help me find another way to teach Tim.”
Ann’s inspiring work is leading to independence.
“My next hope is to write a kids book, which I’m doing.”
Ann believes all kids, no matter the degree of special needs, can benefit from some inclusion.
She even attends school meetings with parents which can be tough since inclusion isn’t the norm.
As for her daughter, Brie gets a little weekly help with certain tasks at home through the state’s Medicaid waiver program. Brie is a shining example of what’s possible, thanks to people like Ann educating us all.