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Hero Spotlight: Chris Ulmer

HERO SPOTLIGHT: Special Education Teacher Chris Ulmer


Chris Ulmer is a special education teacher at Keystone Academy in Jacksonville Florida.  The basis of all his teachings is simply this: LOVE. Every morning he spends time individually complimenting each student on their strengths and giving them the greatest confidence boost possible by telling them everything he loves about them and then ends his time with each student with a HI-FIVE!  This is a perfect example of why we consider every teacher to be a Hero.

Hi-fives are awesome, right? We think so too… Hi-five the person sitting next to you, or the next person you see! If you come across a Hero, give them a double hi-five.

This job was the first in special education for Ulmer. For the past two years, he has been working with the same nine students, all with varying forms of special needs. While he admits it took him a while to get a grasp the job, he has now been “accepted into their world.” Ulmer’s hope is to build up the students’ self confidence and self-esteem by focusing on all things positive for each student.

chris ulmer, keystone academy, special education, heroes home advantage

“Instead of focusing on deficits I focus on talents,” he wrote in the video’s captions, adding that his daily practice has also led to students complimenting each other. The exchanges have also helped the students better socialize.

“The children have become much more social and their communication skills have grown incredibly, both verbal and nonverbal,” he told The Mighty.

After doing a little digging to find out some more information on this amazing teacher HERO, I came across another article that showed more of what he does for his students. Ulmer has created a project called “Special Books by Special Kids.” This is a project that he has put together along with his students and their families.

The project is an eight-chapter book featuring eight of his students, with each chapter including two parts. The first part is from the parents’ point of view, including what the child is like and what the family has been through. The second part of the chapter is a story, fiction or nonfiction, written by the child and illustrated by a professional. The project’s website includes video interviews with the children and photos.

chris ulmer, keystone academy, special education, heroes home advantage

“I believe if enough people follow our journey it will erase stigmas and show the beautiful nature of children with special needs,” he wrote on the Special Books by Special Kids Facebook page.

The idea was initially inspired when Ulmer was at a wedding. He was sitting beside a couple reading a book to their child. The simplicity of the book got Ulmer thinking.

“As I was watching that, I was thinking, ‘My students could do that,’” said Ulmer. “Then, I started thinking, ‘Why don’t they do that right now? There’s no reason they shouldn’t. They’re more than capable.’ Then, I started thinking of why not make that an educational process for everybody involved and educate them on special needs individuals as well.”

Ulmer hopes the project will serve multiple purposes. For the parents, he hopes it will act as a resource for others who have children with similar diagnoses. For children, he wants to raise awareness.

“I’m hoping this project, for the kids, builds love, empathy and understanding,” he said.


gofundme account has been set up for anyone who would like to donate.  Half of the proceeds from the book will go to the children.

Thank you, Chris Ulmer, for your incredible service to the children whose lives you bless everyday. Just awesome.



Huffington Post

Penn State University

Images from FaithTap

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