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Hearing-impaired Evangel grad serves as paraprofessional for students with disabilities

February 20, 2014 | Anna Lester

Focused. Determined. Inspirational. Unstoppable.

Meet Casey Linder, a paraprofessional at Weller Elementary and a 2013 graduate of Evangel University.

Linder has experienced social and educational challenges for many years due to a hearing impairment. However, she didn’t let that prevent her from becoming an educator.

“My disability allows me to be an encouragement and motivation to anyone who has something special or unique about them,” she says.

Linder sees her hearing impairment as a gift, enabling her to connect with special-needs students on a personal level.

“I want to be the best teacher and resource for the hearing-impaired students that I work with,” she says. “Being hearing-impaired myself, I’ve personally experienced trying to learn while struggling to hear.”

Dr. Colleen Hardy, chair of Evangel’s Education Department, worked closely with Linder during her time as a student.

“Casey challenged me as an educator to think more like a student,” Hardy says. “I had to imagine what it was like for her to interpret what I was saying and then adjust how I presented information to make sure it was clear. I love the positive and gracious attitude Casey brings to her work. I see her passion for education and compassion for students in everything she does.”

In her spare time, Linder studies American Sign Language and teaches her students as she learns.

“I want them to have every advantage, and to celebrate what makes them unique,” Linder says. “When they do something good, I teach them to cheer.”

Linder’s goal is to establish a program for all students to communicate about personal challenges, whether they are physical disabilities or other issues that may isolate students from one another.

“I want students to be able to talk about what makes them different,” she says. “Whatever struggle they have is a barrier that can be broken down. I want students to know that disabilities don’t have to limit them.”

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