...It's been a long time ... and I'm fuzzy about whether it was YOU who sent me the connection to Tira in the first place ... but after a lot of foot dragging and procrastination, I finally got together with Tira at the Sunshine Children's Hospital and I had to write and thank you for suggesting that I do so! She is quite amazing!
Note:Emily Kingsley; one of the most highly regarded advocates for children with disabilities as well as one of the most celebrated writers of Sesame Street since it was launched. Independently she also raised awareness about children with Down syndrome in her autobiographical primetime special "Kids Like These".
Sunshine Children's Hospital
January 14th 2010, my second visit under my second contract visiting the Sunshine Children's Home. I introduced my books and music videos for the first time. They had already been introduced to the music on the CD’s. I gifted the hospital with 6 books in total, 4 cd's and 12 music videos and 2 posters. I also left 2 headshots for their bulletin board to inspire the children to look forward to my next visit.
In the first session the children responded to the videos with enthusiastic smiles. They played along with tambourines and danced with excitement to the music. The teacher of the class room, Nick Berardi of Sunshine Music Children's Home expressed his gratitude and was overjoyed with the materials, as he appreciated it. He said... "with as much money as this hospital has... although they supply us with materials, these materials are not always effective. Your material inspires a reaction in the children." They asked me to sign the books and posters, which I did with love.
The second class room is a bigger room with more children. Some of the children were lying in beds because they are unable to move or be moved. Some of them had plastic tubes protruding from their throats and others were connected by wires to monitoring machines. I approached each child individually and acknowledged them with an individualized hello song, using their name within the song. Each child was made to feel uniquely special.
I was warned by the staff that one little boy who was deaf and blind was a `sprayer' who pushes people away and spits on them. I first approached him with my small guitar to see if he was inclined to touch the guitar and feel the rhythm. He gently pushed the guitar away. The next time, I approached him and played a gentle percussion on his leg with my hand. He started dancing to the rhythm with a big smile. The teachers were also grateful in the second class room for the materials I left, and one of them, put them in a special place, to make sure she knew where they were, and so they wouldn’t get lost!
15 Jan. 2010
I like to compliment Tira for the time and efforts she puts into every musical session with our class. She is a lightening rod and totally engages the students in her music. We have witnessed from our students a noticeable reaction to Tira's music and persona. Each week we look forward to working and participating in her unique and talented musical encounter with our students. She has become a great asset in helping us to reach our Special Needs Students. We are looking forward to partnering with her in the future.
Nick Bernardi & Krystle Martino
Tira – your energy is incredible! Several of the teacher reaction sheets noted how you adapted the programs so specifically for each of the student populations which was great. You also had myself and the VP from VSA arts bobbing down the hallway. This was definitely a unique workshop for the festival which got all the kids moving, singing, and actively engaged.
|On behalf of the teachers and students, I would like to say that we do really appreciate the sessions Tira is having with out students. She is really doing a fantastic job especially with our 'severely challenge' population. They responded well to her music and the way she interacts with them. She works individually and collectively with the students. Tira also involve the staff in her activities as she integrates her music with stories and movements.
Beside having so much fun, students are working towards their IEP goals and objectives. We would be grateful to have some extended sessions with her
Thank you very much for your decision.
P. Ramsarran (Ruth)
Staff @ Kingsbrook Hospital, Brooklyn NY
|To Whom It May Concern,
Tira teaches Mommy & Me classes at our early childhood center, working with infants from 2 months to children up to three years old. Tira brings in a wonderful energy and enthusiasm to class. Kids find her fun and funny, and they love her guitar and music time especially. Tira is also very well organized and manages her classroom well, and consistantly transitions and communicates with her students, and uses positive reinforcement to encourage children. She is also very easy to work with and is well liked by her co-workers and overall has a very constructive and helpful attitide - often stepping in to cover another teacher or help out. I have also found her to be very reliable and hard working, eager to give her all to whatever she takes on.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions.
Susan Izatt, Director of Early Childhood , MoonSoopmoonsoup@earthlink.net
To Whomever reads this letter, greetings!
I am the father of a 13 year boy, Dashiell. He has multiple physical and cognitive challenges and is educated alongside kids with autism. (Strictly speaking, he is brain-injured, not autistic, as a result of an extremely early birth and attendent complications).
But that's not what this letter is about! It's about the extraordinary relationship that Dash enjoys with Tira. They met about two years ago at Dash's afterschool program, when Tira became the new music teacher. The kids and Dash immediately responded to Tira's warmth and kind manner and, of course, her music.
But then Dash began to make special requests of Tira--let's make that special demands! It seems the previous music teacher used to play a group of songs to the kids on her guitar, and Dash had gotten used to them; he wanted to hear Tira play them. Tira was willing, but there was a big problem: they were original songs and there were no recordings from which Tira might learn them.
It didn't help that Tira bore some resemblance to the former teacher, and that even their guitars were similar. All this combined with Dashiell's one track brain--the boy is persistant--led to a weekly scene of Dash plaintively pleading to Tira the key phrases from the songs he so wanted to hear: "Let's take care of our pets?" "Time to move on to something different?" "Pop a bubble?" What could the poor woman do?
Only turn around and write brand new custom songs just for him, inspired by those little scraps. And what great songs they are: catchy, simple, and warm. Every time he hears them he has a "glee attack"! (to borrow my sister's phrase). The other kids love them too!
Tira didn't stop there. She began to write and record numerous CDs of her original compositions (kindly distributing them to the families). She has now even published two beautiful books of her own incredible illustrations to go with the songs!
Dash continues to go bonkers with happiness whenever he sees Tira and, from what I've seen, the feeling is mutual. It's so nice that there are people like Tira in the world. I would highly recommend her for any situation involving children with issues, whether in a classroom setting, one-on-one, whatever. She genuinely enjoys her work and the kids understand that better than anyone.
I would be happy to discuss this further with any interested parties; Tira has my cell number.
Have a wonderful day!
Father of Dashiell
Again, thanks for your fun and entertaining presentation to our children yesterday. The children really showed their appreciation, and your sensitivity to them was apparent. So, the way you sang softly and slowly for some children, encouraged others to vocalize in a fun way, and gave still others a non-verbal way to make choices, was very fitting for our medically fragile and developmentally delayed students. Thanks for the show!
It was very nice to talk to you and thank you very much for the wonderful music! as you know, my daughter has speech delay and loves music! I put the CD in car and she was listening to it. it is a very good sign. I will take some time to teach her to sing it slowly. once she gets into the songs, she will repeat singing it hundreds times...