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A Valuable Gift to Teachers Working with Students with Special Needs

Ward 1 AUGUST 5, 2020 – Thanks to a generous gift from an international technology company with a plant here in Winston-Salem, teachers who work with students with special needs will be wearing special masks once they’re able to work with students in person again.

The oversize, clear masks that cover from the forehead to below the chin will enable a student to see their teacher’s full face.

For with students with special needs – especially those with hearing impairments and issues with speaking and language – being able to see the teacher’s face can make a big difference in their ability to understand and to learn, said Alexa McDonough, an EC (Exceptional Children) Speech-Language Pathologist at Walkertown Elementary.

“Facial expressions are so important.”

The 400 masks were donated by TE Connectivity, an international company that – at its manufacturing plant on Reidsville Road in Winston-Salem – makes plastic parts for automobiles.

The company also donated 500 masks to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

The connection with Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools came through McDonough’s husband, Patrick McDonough, who is a plastics engineer at the plant.

The masks were designed by Ryan Prunty, who is the Operations Manager for the company’s Automotive Strategic Tooling Group.  

When Alexa McDonough spoke to Prunty about the gift of the masks, he said, “We did it because we saw what was happening and were compelled by the nation’s call to manufacturers to help. TE is a generous company that is actively involved in several charities. We knew with the skilled people and resources we have worldwide we could quickly jump in to make an impact.” 

Susan L. Battigelli is the school system’s EC Program Director of Related and Itinerant Services.

“It is heartwarming to see a business like TE Connectivity support public education by providing face shields to our special education staff.”

“Many of our students (those with speech/language delays and/or hearing impairments) need to be able to see their teacher's and therapist's face and mouth.  Full access to the adult's face enhances the child's ability to communicate and to engage in instruction while allowing us to adhere to safety precautions.”

“We are very grateful to TE Connectivity!”

The masks will definitely be a big help when teachers start working with students in person, McDonough said.

“I’m thankful the community wants to be involved in helping us make the transition back to brick-and-mortar schools,” McDonough said.