In the mid-1970s, the ink was barely dry on a federal law that would change the look of education forever. The Education for all Handicapped Children Act (PL 94-142) opened the school doors for every child. I was attending the University of Oregon’s Handicapped Learner’s Norm pilot program and would ultimately receive a Masters Degree in Special Education.In 1977, I started the first Resource Room at Adam’s Elementary School in McMinnville, Oregon. Throughout my 36-year career as a Special Education teacher, I assessed, diagnosed, and remediated students with learning and behavior disorders. I’ve written more reports, evaluations, summaries, and individual education plans (IEP) than I can count. Training staff, advising parents, and collaborating with teams of teachers, administrators, and other facilitators occurred daily — all while teaching students that I came to know and love.
HELLO, I’M DEBORAH (Previously known as DEBBIE CUMMINS or, before that, as DEBBIE DICKENSON)
Educational curriculum, teaching styles, and IEPs have changed over the years, but the Resource Room (Learning Support) models remain.Before, during, and after my Special Education career, I never gave up my love of theatre. I wrote and directed many school plays while also teaching numerous drama classes. Apart from teaching, I toured the inland waterways of Great Britain on a narrowboat performing with the Daystar Theatre Company. When home in Oregon or Washington, I directed or acted in various community theatre productions.Currently, I live on a floating home in Portland, Oregon with my husband Russell, twin cats, and our Golden Retriever, Flyer. My daughter Amy is now 34 years old and lives in a house with roommates. Russell and I help with her endeavors and struggles to obtain daily independent living skills. For this reason, I continue to serve as an advocate for people with disabilities as a board member of Inclusion, Inc. in Portland.I am passionate about sharing the inspiring story of my mother, LaVerne (Stella), and sister, Donna, and the historic battle that won equal access to appropriate education for children with disabilities. These were the children who historically were denied not only an education, but any true place in this world. That’s why I wrote Uniquely Stella.I am a skilled workshop facilitator and speaker, answering the call to engage in discussions and activism regarding people living with special needs. Yet, the book Uniquely Stella goes beyond the message of advocating for those with conditions labeled as disabilities. Discover the book’s focus: realization of the courage, strength and spirit of women who inspired and created positive societal change.