Me and my fabulous son, Max

Me and my  fabulous son, Max
Powerscourt, Ireland

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Our Brush With an Extraordinary Woman, Miss Lisa Hannaman

Max headed to his first day of 6th Grade!

October is Down Syndrome Awareness month.  This year, like all other years, I start out trying to bring attention to something positive related to down syndrome every day.  I start out strong...I mean well, but then life happens and my focus on Down syndrome awareness goes by the wayside.

This year, an old friend from High School posted a video on my facebook page about the first teacher in Argentina with Down syndrome.  How amazing, right?  My friend, Carol Magarino posted about the first teacher in Gaza with Down syndrome.  Groundbreaking, right?

Then I began to think back and realized that 9 years ago, when Max was in the Infant Toddler program at Alcott Elementary in the San Diego Unified School District, that he had a teacher with Down syndrome, Miss Lisa. I began to wonder about Miss Lisa.  What is she up to?  Is she still teaching?   Is she still socially active?

I wrote an article about Miss Lisa in October of 2007 and I'll share it below.

I'd like to first let you know that 9 years later, Lisa Hannaman is STILL working for the Infant Toddler program at Alcott Elementary.  She has been working with children at San Diego Unified for OVER 20 YEARS!  So while these stories that friends are sharing with me are amazing, in comparison they make Miss Lisa's story all the more extraordinary!

If you live in San Diego, Lisa Hannaman is legendary.  I reached out to see if anyone could tell me what Miss Lisa was up to these days.  Jamie Bisant let me know that her son is in Lisa's class this year and offered this bit of info:

She was at the buddy walk with her boyfriend (who has autism) she said she's never dated a boy with Down syndrome. And she broke of with her last boyfriend because he wasn't nice to his mom!! Love it!!! There's a lot of typical girls who should take notes 

Lisa with Max in 2007

Lisa with Joey Bisant this year at Alcott
Here is the story I did 9 years ago.  She is still an inspiration and living proof of what is possible for individuals with Down syndrome:

Lisa Hannaman--Living on Her Own
by Marti Lindsey

Lisa Hannaman’s face lights up when she talks about her job. When asked what her favorite part of working in Alcott’s Infant Program is, she beams and says, “Playing with the children!” Lisa Hannaman is an adult with Down syndrome. She lives independently and has worked for the San Diego Unified School District for over twelve years.

Lisa is a shining example of the endless possibilities our children possess. Lisa is in her early thirties. She has lived in an apartment in Mira Mesa since 2000. She rides the City bus to her job in Clairemont Mesa five days a week. The bus ride is about an hour, with a fifteen minute walk to her job at Alcott.

Lisa started her career at Erikson Elementary working with the preschool program. After four years at Erikson, Lisa transferred to Alcott where she has been working with children in the zero to three program for the past eight years.

When asked about her duties at Alcott, Lisa replies, “I get snacks and lunches. I play with children and put them in circle. For me it’s easy.” Circle time is when young children come together for a lesson where they sit together in a circle formation. If you’ve ever tried to get twelve two year olds to do something, you know it’s not easy.

Outside of work, Lisa’s life is much like any other single gal in San Diego. She does her own grocery shopping, laundry, cooking and cleaning in the apartment she shares with a roommate. “It’s not really my favorite part,” Lisa says about the cleaning. Her favorite color is purple, which she used to decorate her bathroom. Her signature dish is “Apricot Chicken.”

Lisa enjoys taking a weekly class in line dancing, followed by a dance party each Saturday in Carmel Mountain. She enjoys painting, yarn crafts, watching the San Diego Padres and going to the movies. Julia Roberts is her favorite actress. “I don’t care what she’s in; I’ll watch it,” says Lisa.

Lisa enjoys listening to Billy Joel, Shania Twain and Kelly Clarkson on her I-pod. Not surprisingly, she enjoys watching American Idol, much like any other young woman her age.

Lisa’s mom, Beth Hannaman says, “She’s in charge of what she wants to do. She has shown us that she makes good decisions.” Lisa’s family is very involved in her life. Lisa also has a coach, Julie Burcher, provided by the San Diego Regional Center. Julie helps Lisa with her finances and offers support wherever needed. Lisa mostly uses a debit card for her purchases and writes checks for her bills.

Lisa was recently appointed a “Global Messenger” for the Special Olympics. Lisa participates in Soccer, Sailing, Softball, Track and Field, and Ice Skating for the Special Olympics. “2005 was the year of Lisa,” says her mother, Beth. Lisa won a Bronze medal in Ice Skating at the World Winter Games in Japan. That same year Lisa was awarded the Classified Employee of the Year by the San Diego Unified School District.

As you can see, Lisa leads a full life. Her mother, Beth, said that Lisa would like to be married. When I asked Lisa about what she would look for in a husband, she said, “He has to like everything about me and be nice to my friends.” That sounds like any thirty-something woman to me.

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