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Recipient of Teacher of the Year Award reaches out to students with disabilities

Aimee Gage

Aimee Gage always knew she wanted to work with children with disabilities, and her education at BYU enabled her to fulfill that dream. And fulfilling her dream has led to receiving a "Teacher of the Year Award" from Wal-Mart. The award includes $1,000 to be used in the classroom, which Gage plans to put toward the purchase of new science activities and computer programs.

After growing up in Pleasant Grove, Utah, Gage began attending BYU–Idaho but spent her summers at home in Utah. “One summer, I met the man of my dreams and knew I needed to stay in Utah,” she related. “I knew BYU was a top-rate school and hard to get into. Fortunately, I was able to get in with short notice.”

Gage graduated from BYU in December 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in special education, with an emphasis in severe disabilities. “Right after graduating in December, I started teaching at the same school where I student taught, Riverton Elementary,” she said. “I finished the school year teaching an Intellectual Disability Cluster, grades 1–2.” When classes were reorganized in the school district, Gage switched to teaching an Orthopedic Cluster at the same school. “I have always wanted to work with children who have disabilities, and I am glad this degree has allowed me to do it,” she expressed.

One classroom experience that stands out from her years at BYU is when she had the opportunity to use Eagle Eyes, which is a device that helps students with severe disabilities use the computer. The software works via electrodes placed on a student’s face, enabling the student to control the mouse using his or her eyes, and Gage had the chance to test-drive the device. “I couldn’t believe how fun it was to try this,” she reflected. “It was amazing drawing pictures and shooting aliens using just my eyes.” Recalling how using the program wore out her eyes, Gage expressed great respect for people who use the program on a regular basis. “The technology that is becoming available to children with disabilities is so fascinating.”

Gage has been married for three years, and she and her husband enjoy fishing, playing Rock Band, and watching movies. Although she enjoyed her time at BYU, she is glad to be in the next stage of her life. “Working is so much easier than going to school,” she admitted. “I feel like my life is a lot more in balance, and it’s nice to have a career.”

January 7, 2009