Sometimes an ordinary person displays extraordinary courage. Beth Taylor Devlin always had a place in her heart for children with special needs. In her teens she was a special needs camp counselor and trained children for the Special Olympics while she attended Buffalo State College. She began her career in education in the Bronx before coming to Hicksville in 1990 to teach in the Special Ed Pre-K program at Dutch Lane School.
In 1998, Beth’s world was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with a brain tumor on the base of her brain stem. As a young mother of a three year-old daughter, Emily, Beth worried about surviving the 12-hour surgery she was facing. There was a long and difficult road to recovery. Beth developed post-traumatic headache syndrome and suffered from excruciating pain, double vision, and balance issues. Beth’s colleagues from the HCT (Hicksville Congress of Teachers) rallied around Beth, donating their sick days so she could make her mortgage payments. Beth’s students made her banners and cards, parents called her regularly and brought meals to the house for her family.
After eight long months, Beth met with Maureen Bright, Hicksville’s Superintendent of Schools, who facilitated her return to work. Beth’s second daughter Kate was born in 2002. Most recently, supported by her colleagues in the HCT, Beth participated in a “National Brain Tumor Walk” which raised over $301,000 for research. Beth has made a full recovery and enjoys yoga and teaching her “K-2 Autism class” at Dutch Lane School. One of the things that Beth likes best about working with special needs children is the close involvement she has with their families. Her students have trouble communicating and she depends on their parents to partner with her in order to help the children reach their fullest potential. “It’s most rewarding,” says Taylor Devlin, “to keep in touch with former students and their families, hear about their success stories, and know that you were even a small part of it!”
(Beth Taylor-Devlin is a member of Hicksville Congress of Teachers)