MARIETTA - Six-year-old Daylon Maliki couldn't wait to see his favorite teacher, Chris Hill, during Phillips Elementary School's kindergarten graduation Tuesday.
"We're doing a play; it's called 'Dirty Rocks,'" Daylon said as he entered the school.
His grandmother, Peggy Williams of Reno, said Daylon is one of nine special needs students in Hill's classroom.
Photo by Sam Shawver
Phillips Elementary School grandparent Peggy Williams, left, recognized special education teacher Chris Hill with a bronze apple, plaque and a teddy bear that sings “The Butterfly Song” during the school’s kindergarten graduation exercises Tuesday afternoon. Williams’ 6-year-old grandson, Daylon Maliki, is among nine special needs students in Hill’s class.
"He has autism, ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), and other issues, but he's learned so much in Chris's class. She's so patient and loves all of her students," Williams said. "And she's not afraid to give them a hug when they need it."
During Tuesday's Class of 2024 kindergarten graduation, Williams gave special recognition to Hill by presenting her with a bronze apple, carnation, plaque and cards signed by parents and students.
Cards and flowers were presented to Hill's aides and therapy assistants, and a balloon bouquet was given to Phillips Elementary Principal Joe Finley.
"It takes someone with dedication and experience who's willing to not place every kid in the same mold," he said. "And Chris serves kindergarten through fifth grade students, which can be a real challenge."
Julie Carpenter's son, Tony, 6, is also in Hill's class.
"He has some learning disabilities, but she's a nice teacher and he likes the class," Carpenter said. "They say he's doing very well."
Hill, 47, a native of Barlow, has been teaching for 16 years, spending eight years at Ewing, two years in the Frontier district, and she's in her sixth year at Phillips Elementary.
"I started out in Washington, D.C., in a unit working with autism," she said. "I began my education at Alderson-Broaddus College in Philippi, W.Va., studying for a nursing degree."
But during her time at A-B, Hill helped the school organize a Special Olympics event.
"I really enjoyed it so much that I changed my major to education and later to special education," she said.
Her students run the gamut of disabilities, including Down syndrome, autism, congenital birth defects and learning disabilities.
"ADHD is a big one, and many of these children have more than one disability to deal with," Hill said. "But they give me a lot more than I give to them."
Daylon's father, Justin Maliki, said his son was looking forward to continuing in Hill's class next year.
"It takes a lot to handle him, but she does the job very well," he said.