C-J special ed teacher ‘Making a Difference’

DAYTON — When a News Center 7 viewer sent me an email saying they know a woman who is the “most kind, humble human being,” I just had to go see for myself.

It took me about 5 seconds to see just how Judi MacLeod is “Making a Difference.”

Stop off at Chaminade-Julienne High School on South Ludlow Street in Dayton, and up on the second floor, Room 208, you will find the teacher everybody calls Miss J.

MacLeod, a C-J graduate, started the Catholic high school’s special education program 20 years ago.

More than 100 students, one-sixth of C-J’s population, lean on Miss J for everything from math to everyday skills that will help these students get through life.

“What can they do next?” MacLeod said. “You want lives fulfilled.”

Along with being their teacher …

“She’s like a team captain. And part drill sergeant,” sophomore Dylan Shoemaker said.

“She’s terrifying,” William Brodnick said.

But they love her.

“She’s always there when you need her,” Mia Whistler said.

For every one of her students, she is like their mom.

“At the end of the day, you’re gonna have 20 kids that hate you. Ten years from now one of them will come back and say, ‘if it wasn’t for you, I would not have done this,’” MacLeod said.

I asked her of all the teaching jobs out there, why would she choose arguably one of the most challenging?

“I want people to realize kids with disabilities are first kids. They have the same wants, desires, dreams everybody else does. You just gotta give them a chance. … They might not always look the same, act the same, but when you get down to it, they are just human beings.

“They have so much to give,” she said.

And when I asked whether she thought she was “Making a Difference,” she said: “They all have unique stories and at the end of the day, they give you more than you will ever give them.”

She never expects a thank you. But kids are quick to show their appreciation.

“It’s that hug you get, high five,” which MacLeod said is priceless.

“Miss J, she got you, ever have a question, she got you. My grades been better," Mac Weatherspoon said.

MacLeod said she considers this the greatest job in the world. “At the end of the day they give me more fulfillment than anybody else.”

Do you know someone who is "Making a Difference" in your community? Send me a message on my Facebook page, or email me at James.Brown@WHIOtv.com

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