Special Education Class Wins Contest 


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When Patricia Sanker entered her class’s submission in the United Black Fund’s annual “I love life and want to live!” campaign, she had no idea how successful it would be.

Ms. Sanker teaches in a self-contained special education classroom where the students range from ages nine to twelve.

The campaign, started in 1994, aims to counteract the influences of violence and drugs through original student expression. Contestants had the choice to submit a poster, essay, oral presentation or song. Ms. Sanker thought a song would be the most fun for her class.

The song is entitled “I love life and want to live!” and takes its name from the contest and its beat from a multiplication rap song that the students had already learned. Ms. Sanker’s approach shows her lean toward innovation in the classroom and her desire to find interesting and exciting ways for her students to learn.

The song, though simple, captures the spirit of the contest through its lyrics such as “say, if you want to live you must first say, I feel smart, I feel good, I love life and I want to live.”

Ms. Sanker represented the class at a celebration of the contestants at Howard University on June 9.

Ms. Sanker has many ideas about how to use the prize money, a total of two hundred dollars. One possibility is using the funds to throw the class a celebration of their success. 

Another idea is to use the money to go towards purchasing a reading program that she believes will help improve her students’ reading skills. 

Finally, Ms. Sanker is also considering is using part of the money to buy gift certificates for five of her students who will be graduating to middle school at the end of the year.

Ms. Sanker, herself a product of District of Columbia Public Schools, graduated from Ballou High School in 1977.

 She has been a special education teacher in the district for twenty-five years and a teacher at Tyler Elementary School for four years.

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