This reader response to an AJC article on special education teachers in Cobb ended up on my desk where I read it in amazement. Teacher Shannon Bryant sounds extraordinary.
Read this letter from parent Jason Adams and you will understand why. After reading it, I am even more perplexed why a teacher of Shannon’s caliber was not rehired. I wouldn’t just rehire her after reading this; I would start collecting for a statue in her honor.
With the permission of the author:
I am writing in response to your recent article entitled “Cobb Rehires 130 Special Education Teachers.” My hope is to add to the sentiments expressed regarding special needs teacher Shannon Bryant. My son, Sully, is a former student of Ms. Shannon.
When Sully was diagnosed with a brain disorder, we searched for the best special needs program in the state. After speaking with both parents and teachers; and after visiting many schools, we were clear where we should be. We moved our family to the Nickajack district so that Sully could join Ms. Bryant’s class.
Sully could barely walk or talk when he began class. He was not potty trained, could not feed himself, and was troubled with intractable seizures. Mentally, he was already several years behind in his development. Shannon Bryant took him in and went to work. Finally, Sully had met a teacher who was more stubborn than he. Additionally, this teacher knew her business. Sully’s time in pre-k class immediately began to pay dividends. Shannon Bryant’s dedication did not end with the school year. She offered to teach summer school, and we made sure Sully was there.
As Sully grew, he went through dramatic change. His speech developed. He physically developed, and he even learned to feed himself. Then his medical problems worsened. In October of 2008, Sully had surgery to remove the entire left half of his brain. On the day of his surgery, we received a photo of Shannon, her class, and many other Nickajack teachers wearing T-shirts with SULLY printed across the chest. Shannon was responsible for this, and I believe it to be the kindest gesture I’ve personally ever witnessed.
While recovering in a therapy center at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Sully had to re-learn nearly everything. He couldn’t walk. Shannon boarded an airplane and came directly to Sully’s aid. Within one day she had him walking. Sully was weak, as he once again refused to eat or drink. Shannon had him eating and drinking before she left. She has repeated this act every single time Sully has suffered a setback (he’s had a few surgeries over the past year).
You see, Shannon Bryant is more than a classroom teacher. She loves her students and is 100 percent dedicated to their success. I suspect this is why she was voted Teacher of the Year in 2009. In the history of the award, no teacher has deserved it more.
Fast forward to today. Sully is in kindergarten. He walks, talks, feeds himself, and is potty trained. Cognitively, he is making great strides to catch up. He is seizure free. He is a joyful child and is loved by anyone who knows him. As his father, I’d like to take credit for the person he has become. But that wouldn’t be fair. Sully has accomplished so much because of the hours upon hours of work put in by Shannon Bryant. She is a true professional, and my family is so thankful that she came into Sully’s life.
I do not understand how Cobb County chose to fire Ms. Bryant. Teachers like this don’t come along often. A mistake has been made here. A bad one. I am most concerned that Ms. Bryant’s current students are being deprived of her great talents. I hope and pray that Shannon Bryant is rehired by Nickajack Elementary.