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Math teacher born without arms teaches class - with feet

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 21st, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Mary Gannon is a math and science instructor at a Lakewood, Ohio middle school. Like all teachers, she hopes to lead by example, and to encourage all of her students to overcome all their obstacles. Born without arms, Gannon instructs her students using her prehensile feet.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Gannon writes on the board, types on her computer and hands out worksheets with her toes.

Gannon grew up in a Mexican orphanage and was adopted by an Ohio family when she was seven. She joined the staff of her current school last year as a substitute teacher and now tutors 6th, 7th and 8th graders full-time.

She drives to work in a car with the number plate that reads "Happy Feet."

Gannon says she hopes her determination will teach the children a valuable life lesson.
 
"I'm doing what I wanted to do, what I love to do," she says. "And if you set your mind to whatever you want to do and you love to do then - go for it - no one can stop you."

Gannon dislikes such terms as "handicapped" or even "different," "because it has a negative bias," she says.

But "if it's gonna inspire or help people for them to be or do better in their lives then I'm okay with that and I hope that people gain something from me," she said.

The students all say Ms. Gannon inspires them and has shown them that they could overcome their struggles.

"She inspires me because she [shows me] how good I can get at some math problems cause I'm not really that good at math," 6th grader Jaden Johnson says.

"It teaches you that you can do anything you want to do no matter what," Eighth grader Cambri Griffin tells reporters.

Her fellow instructors at Harding Middle School all agree she provides a good example to all the students.

"I think people are gonna say, "if she can do it, I certainly can do it,'" Assistant Principal Joe Tackacs says.

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