Position: Language Arts Teacher
School District: Outschool
City, State: Green Bay, WI
Music that Describes Allyce
Allyce Zimmer was nominated by Shaila Abdullah, the parent of a student.
"Sometimes, a teacher’s impact on the children's lives they touch may not be visible to them outwardly, but behind the scenes, they are changing lives," said Abdullah. "I am the mother of a 7-year old little girl who is smart and funny. She was diagnosed with selective mutism last year. While she had no problem communicating with her peers, she struggled to converse with adults. My daughter had so much to offer, but in her regular classroom, she would contribute very little. I wished for a teacher who understood her challenges and wouldn't pass her off as just a shy kid."
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Ms. Abdullah scrambled to find resources to fit her daughter’s unique interests and needs, like other mothers across the globe. She stumbled upon Outschool by chance. Outschool is a robust e-learning platform that offers online classes in various subjects. It was as if a portal had opened up for her daughter.
"The first teacher we found there was Allyce Zimmer, a language arts teacher. The connection between her and my daughter was instantaneous," said Abdullah. "During the online classes, I could see my daughter starting to open up and talk to her with an excitement that I had never seen in her before. Ms. Allyce responded with equal enthusiasm, involving my daughter in lengthy class discussions, designing her classes around my daughter’s interests, and taking on and acting upon her suggestions during class. As my daughter took more and more classes with Ms. Allyce, speaking up and offering her thoughts became a natural rhythm for her. To my delight, I saw her express herself with a strong desire to communicate on her own with this gifted teacher."
"My daughter did not stop there. Ms Allyce’s classes offered her the confidence to take other classes with teachers she had not met before," said Abdullah. "I enrolled her in classes on science, math, engineering, building, coding, and art. She was able to have encounters with live animals, 'visit' different countries, and learn about various traditions, cultures, sights, crafts, and languages. The difficult period we are all living in became lighter and easier to endure."
"I finally wrote to Ms. Allyce to thank her for her valuable contribution in helping my daughter," said Abdullah. "It was then that she revealed to me that she, too, had selective mutism growing up, and that she could see herself in my daughter. She explained how writing stories helped her grow confident and propelled her toward teaching as a career to help other children. She went on to get her Master’s degree in cross-categorical special education."
"Now, in my daughter’s encounters with other adults, I see very little of the hesitation and shyness that I did before," said Abdullah. "None of this would have been possible if Ms. Allyce hadn't entered our lives as a ray of sunshine. I am greatly indebted to her for helping my daughter blossom and become a confident young person with lots to offer to the world."