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Campbell column: Passion for students

KANNAPOLIS — I could hear the excitement in April Boone’s voice Wednesday.
It almost sounded like she had won the lottery.
And maybe figuratively she has.
Unlike a lot of people, Boone loves her job.
“I’ve never dreaded coming to work,” she said. “When I’m at work, I’m having fun.”
Boone works with exceptional children at A.L. Brown High School. It’s a job that, she says, never gets old for one simple reason.
“I love the students.”
That passion for students is what led to the creation of a special Christmas party for exceptional children.
“When you really enjoy something, you want to do more of it,” she said.
The annual Christmas party, now in its second year, brings together exceptional children from A.L. Brown, Salisbury High, Northwest Cabarrus High, Mount Pleasant High, Kannapolis Middle and Harris Road Middle schools.
“The goal is basically to give our kids a space of their own to socialize, specifically with other kids,” Boone said.
The idea started small with just a couple of schools.
“From there it has just taken on a life of its own,” Boone said. “Everybody was just so excited about it.”
The event was held this year at the Kannapolis Y, but Boone said with about 300 students and teachers in attendance they are already outgrowing that facility.
During the party, students get to take the stage, showing off their talents.
Boone said some recite poems while others read songs.
Students also get a free lunch and a gift to take home, thanks to a grant provided by Wal-Mart.
Boone said being at the party is an “indescribable” feeling.
“It’s amazing,” she said. “They are so comfortable walking around, talking to each other and dancing, it just blows you away.”
It fills Boone’s heart with joy to behold such a “beautiful sight.”
“Even though they are coming from all different schools, it seems like they’ve known each other forever.”
Even after the party ends, the happiness it brings continues to linger, she said.
“They talk about it for days and days,” she said. “When they leave (the party) I know without a doubt they know they’re important, they know that we love them, they know how special they are.”
I know what things like this Christmas party mean to exceptional children.
My mom taught exceptional children at elementary schools for more than 30 years.
Every Christmas, she would buy the kids a special gift. Nothing big, just a simple box of colored pencils or set of markers. Things that seem ordinary, but become a marvel in their eyes.
And she never just handed them out as is, she always insisted on wrapping each gift, attaching a name tag with the words “Love, Mrs. Campbell.”
My mom felt the same way Boone does.
She wanted each of them to feel special, to feel loved.
And judging from the smiles, thank-yous and hugs, I’d say mission accomplished.
Sarah Campbell covers education for the Post.
Contact her at 704-797-7683.
Twitter: twitter.com/posteducation
Facebook: facebook.com/Sarah.SalisburyPost

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