Hometown Hero: Connie Peterie

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Besides the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic, Connie Peterie aims to make her class inclusive to every student.

"She may be in a wheelchair, but we all look different, so to us Sam is no different," Connie said.

One of Connie's second graders is Sam Marriott.

She's wheelchair bound and non-verbal, but that hasn't stopped Connie from helping Sam integrate into a regular classroom.

"Ms. Peterie has just taken the ball and run with it. She always says the skies the limit and it truly is. She's made a believer out of me," said Tracy Marriott, Sam's mother.

Since Connie began working with Sam last year, she's reading between a 2nd and 3rd grade level, she can feed herself and drink from a straw.

Sam also uses a computer that can speak for her and she's learned to communicate with the abilities she does have.

"She can give you a look, she can point to things," Connie assured.

"It alleviated all of the fears that I've had for all of Samantha's groundwork for her education," Tracy said.

"Well, it's kind of like winning the lottery, but maybe even a little better," Connie admitted.

Besides having a good education, Sam is also making new friends.

"They even fight over who gets to push her and who gets to walk with her to the playground," Tracy said.

As the children in Connie's class move onto other teachers, she hopes they'll take the lesson of acceptance with them as they grow.

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