JCPS teacher gets child to talk through NTI learning

JCPS teacher gets child to talk through NTI learning

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Many parents across WAVE Country are trying to figure out how they are going to manage NTI learning once again.

Some JCPS families are dreading it. As with everything, there are negatives and positives. JCPS teacher Sara Whitley wanted to share the positive that has come out of NTI learning with one of her students.

Whitley is a first-grade teacher at Auburndale Elementary School in Louisville. A 6-year-old student named Brian never left her side.

”He’s a very special little boy,” Whitley said.

Brian spoke to his parents in Spanish, but when he got to school, he didn’t talk at all to anyone.

”He was very clingy and didn’t socialize with other kids,” Whitley said. “So, I’ve had students before that were non-verbal so, I figured hey, I got this.”

Whitley said she gained Brian’s trust and built on that by teaching him sign language.

“I taught him things like if he had to go to the bathroom if he needed water, help,” Whitley said, adding that she worried about Brian when the school closed to in-person learning because of the pandemic. So, she made it a point to connect virtually with him one on one. To her surprise, a few weeks into NTI, Brian opened up.

“One day my cat jumped up and he saw my cat and he turned to his mom and he said, ‘Gato,” Whitley said. “I’m like, ‘What? He’s talking.‘”

Whitley said she was so excited that she had to record the special moment.

”He started to count in English,” Whitley said. “I cried like a baby.”

Whitley finally heard what Brian sounded like.

”Cute, sweet, little high-pitched voice,” she said. “He talked and he didn’t stop.”

Whitley recently visited Brian at his home. She said she was thrilled when she got to see and hear him in person. So were Brian’s parents.

“We were very happy because he was able to open up and talk directly with his teacher,” Brian’s father, Jordanis Cruz Santos, said through an interpreter. ”He said he enjoys his teacher lessons online.”

Brian’s mother, Adiraisy Lopez Diaz, said through an interpreter.

“During this coronavirus stage in which we had, it’s better for him to use this computer learning technology,” she said. “It does play a role in his learning. We are very happy for it.”

The NTI journey may be hard for some. For Brian, it’s helped. Whitley said she believes there are positives in everything. She hopes that Brian will continue to talk and the time with NTI will help build his confidence.

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