Ana Pocasangre is a fifth-grade student at Broadway Elementary in Denison, Iowa, who has proven to be a skilled sales person despite her young age. Ana has a vision impairment that necessitates the assistance of a talented para-professional in the school, Ann Katzer, and services from Northwest Area Education Agency, in addition to her general education classroom setting. As part of her IEP, professionals from the AEA help Ana with her speech, vision and educational programming.
With guidance from her educators, she recently took the initiative to write to Mike Pardun, the superintendent of Denison CSD, to explain how a safety issue at the school was affecting her and how it might bring harm to others.
One day last December while Ana was in the auditorium with her teacher, Jackie Scheuring, she mentioned that the steps to the stage were dangerous because there were no handrails for support. It was especially tricky for Ana because of her vision problem.
Mrs. Scheuring agreed and encouraged Ana to choose that as her topic for her persuasive letter assignment in her class. With the help of her para-professional, Ana penned a letter to Mr. Pardun requesting that handrails be installed so that no one would fall walking up or down the steps.
Not only did the superintendent respond quickly to Ana’s letter, he worked with the custodial staff at the school to install a new handrail very soon after receiving the pitch from the fifth-grader.
“Ana has taught me that there is no limit when it comes to being able to learn,” said Mrs. Scheuring. “In the right settings and with the right support, you can accomplish any goal set in front of you. Through her actions, I have learned what it truly means to persevere. I am honored to have been able to teach her.”
Mary Bruck, special education strategist at Northwest AEA who works with Ana, has also been very impressed with what Ana has accomplished and said she is a “pretty outstanding” student.
“I think it is interesting how Ana’s request seems to fall outside the realm of what other students her age might ask for,” explained Mrs. Bruck. “And even though the handrail benefits her, I know her thinking was also in protecting other students. That is just Ana’s personality.”
Ana is a thoughtful young girl who is surrounded by compassionate people encouraging her to advocate for herself and others. By all standards, she is doing an excellent job!