Adia Brightman always wanted to be a teacher.

As a child, her bedroom was set up like a classroom, with a chalkboard, a small table and chairs, school supplies and stuffed animals. When friends visited they always played school. Adia was the teacher and she emulated her current teacher.

While pursuing that dream at college, the first special education class she took really inspired her. She felt as if she could make a positive impact with children who had special needs.

Students in special education have learning difficulties, physical disabilities or behavior problems. Federal law recognizes 13 categories of special education, including autism, emotional disturbances, speech or language impairment, deafness and visual impairment. The law entitles all children with learning disabilities to a free, appropriate education.

After college graduation, Brightman was hired by the Omaha Public Schools and taught three years as a special education teacher at Skinner Magnet School, three years as an instructional coach and, for the past six years, she has been a special education supervisor.

Just recently Brightman received an award in the field of education from the National Council of Negro Women Inc., Omaha Section, for her compassionate work in the field of education. She was nominated by fellow members of the Exoteric Book Club, which was established in 2003 and is dedicated to promoting a love for reading, acquisition of knowledge and empowerment of women.

The National Council of Negro Women Inc. has a coalition of 200 community-based sections in 32 states. The organization was founded in 1935 by Mary McLeod Bethune, an American educator, stateswoman, philanthropist, humanitarian and civil right activist.

The council’s annual awards luncheon recognizes women of color for exceptional work in different fields.

Brightman was especially excited to receive an award in the educational field. It means a lot to her to advocate for children who have disabilities that make life more difficult for them. As a caring person, Brightman enjoys helping children with their greatest needs and challenges in life.

She also feels especially honored to receive her award from the council, a nonprofit organization that makes many African- American women proud. Its mission is to advance the opportunities and the quality of life for black women, their families and communities. The organization has an outreach of about 4 million women who work together for, among other initiatives, peaceful solutions for the problems of human welfare and rights.

Brightman said, “When I was still a classroom teacher, I was taking graduate classes for educational leadership. We were asked to bring an artifact that explains us as teachers. I brought a tiara. It symbolizes that I treat my students like princes and princesses. Now at home and at work, I’m known as a princess.”

Brightman appears to fully embrace the quote by an anonymous person that seems to describe her attitude: “A child with special needs will inspire you to be a special kind of person.”

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