The Ohio Department of Education joined thousands of Ohio students last fall to celebrate R.J. Palacio’s Wonder and the release of the theatrical adaptation of her best-selling novel.
Wonder is about the power of kind acts, meaningful peer connections and strong adult mentors seen through the eyes of an extraordinary and spirited fifth grader, Auggie Pullman, and members of his family. Auggie is venturing into school with many of the same interests and worries of other students his age. However, he is also entering school with an exceptional challenge -- a craniofacial anomaly.
“I think there should be a rule that everyone in the world should get a standing ovation at least once in their lives.”
– Auggie Pullman, from R.J. Palacio’s Wonder
Over the course of #OhioWonderWeek the Department celebrated each day with a lesson we learned from the book’s characters, especially Auggie. Now that the movie is available on-demand and DVD, we are excited for more students to read the book, enjoy the movie and embrace its theme of Choosing Kind.
We heard how many classrooms are choosing kindness in their daily lives and enjoyed reading wonderful examples of how students’ kind acts are contributing to an overall positive climate. One of these stories lifted our spirits, provided hope and reminded us that the world is full of wonder!
Greg Schwab is a 2010 Dublin Coffman High School graduate. While a Dublin Coffman student, he was an active member of the school community. Greg and his classmates have many great memories about their times together, especially those of his time as the football team’s manager.
Greg also entered school with an extraordinary difference: He has Apert Syndrome, a genetic disorder that can cause abnormalities in the formation of the head and other parts of the body. After hearing about #OhioWonderWeek, Greg’s mother and Dublin City Schools knew his story needed to be shared. The district produced the video below about Greg’s time at Dublin Coffman to share his remarkable story.
“I honestly can’t say his name without a smile on my face,” Kathy Bell, Dublin Coffman Intervention Specialist, says in the video. [Greg] found students who accepted him for who he was and, with that connection, he really became one of [Dublin] Coffman’s most valuable players.”
This video is a true success story of the district's efforts to provide educational and social-emotional supports to help Greg find success. More than that, it shares the ways Greg found a second family of caring and supportive peers and staff members.
“I don’t think that anyone else could understand because it’s a very rare thing to have a child born with a craniofacial anomaly,” Greg’s mother Marge Mulcahy says. “So as [high school football coach] Mark Crabtree and [Greg’s teammates and friends] Shane and Cody and Jake act like it’s no big deal. It’s profound. They really were role models to everyone in the school community. That’s an excellent example of the Dublin difference.”
Earlier this year, Greg met with a first grade student at Dublin’s Deer Park Elementary who also has Apert Syndrome.
Deer Run Elementary principal Susann Wittig shares the impact of this connection.
“It was an exciting time for him [the first grader] to meet Greg, a recent Dublin graduate, and share that message of empowering others to meet their goals despite their differences, “Wittig said.
“I know I can’t change the way I look,” Greg says in the video. “But maybe, just maybe, people can change the way they see. If they do, they’ll see that I’m a wonder. Look with kindness and you will always find wonder.”