Kennesaw Mountain’s Ross Lives Out Dream
From the time she was 6 years old, Wendy Ross knew she wanted to be a teacher. Her teachers were her inspiration — the inspiration she aims to be for her students at Kennesaw Mountain High School.
Ross has been living her dream in the classroom for 25 years.
“I got into education because of my teachers,” she said. “When I was in, I’ll say, first grade, that’s when I just fell in love with my teacher, and I wanted to be just like her. I wanted to have the power to impact kids because she had such a great impact on me.”
Another teacher helped the Columbus, Georgia, native discover her calling to teach deaf and hard-of-hearing (DHH) students, which has been her role in the Cobb County schools for 14 years and at Kennesaw Mountain for almost a decade.
“I learned sign language when I was in high school, and I listened to my sign language teacher talk about her deaf son and how he was not able to read on grade level,” she said. “He was struggling.”
That story spurred her to channel her love of reading, writing and sign language into preventing DHH students from falling behind.
“She’s a fantastic teacher because she’s always trying to help us achieve our goals and succeed and to learn new things,” KMHS sophomore Jeremiah said.
Jeremiah credits Ross for helping him improve his vocabulary and prepare for a recent districtwide DHH Oratorical Contest, which he won. He’s also learned to communicate more clearly as the only deaf person in his family. But Ross’ impact on him doesn’t stop there.
“She helps me get caught up on my work and study skills, really helps me to stay caught up with my studies,” he said. “She helps me figure out how to set up interpreting services and contact others for various requests.”
Jeremiah’s classmate Alejandro, whom Ross first taught in third grade, also points to his teacher’s bubbly personality, which comforts and motivates students.
“Mrs. Ross helps you when she smiles,” he said. “If I’m feeling stressed or maybe I’m having a bad day, Mrs. Ross always makes me feel better just by her pleasant expression.”
Seeing how Alejandro has progressed since elementary school is one of Ross’ great joys.
“To see all the work that all of his teachers have done, and now here’s the result — a wonderful, wonderful person,” she said. “So that’s why I
Alejandro watches how Ross — who lives in Cartersville with her husband, Quincy, and has two stepsons, Denirio and Jaden — interacts with others and aspires to be more like her. She’s the “fantastic” teacher who helps him understand the difference between nouns, verbs and adjectives and makes him feel more comfortable at school.
“It’s amazing being in this class,” he said. “I feel like I’m really making progress and that I’m able to practice in our class.”
Ross’ students aren’t the only ones who have recognized how hard she works to advocate and support those in her class. Metro Atlanta viewers recently voted her the winner of the High 5 for Teachers contest, sponsored by FOX 5 and Montlick and Associates. She won $2,500 to benefit KMHS and received $500 when she initially was named a finalist.
Whether they’re in the American Sign Language class, after-school club or DHH program, some KMHS students are being inspired to follow in Ross’ footsteps.
“One of the students who graduated from the deaf and hard-of-hearing program here at Kennesaw Mountain is actually coming to be a deaf and hard-of-hearing teacher here next year,” Ross said.
Someday, those former students-turned-educators might have a student thank them for being a fantastic teacher who never gives up. That’s precisely how Ross’ students describe her and why she has no plans to stop living out her dream as a teacher.
– Submitted by Cobb Schools
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