Issue Date Spring 2002
YES I CAN!
The Foundation for Exceptional Children established the Yes I Can! program
in 1981 to acknowledge the achievements of children and youth with
disabilities; to overcome barriers caused by disabilities or public
misconceptions; to encourage children and youth with disabilities to seek
their highest potential; and to increase public awareness of the abilities,
aspirations and personal qualities of people with disabilities.
Derek DiTullio is this year¹s Yes I Can! recipient for Pennsylvania. Derek
attends high school in the North Hills School District, a suburban district
north of Pittsburgh. I spoke with Derek¹s mother, Mrs. Jacqueline DiTullio,
and with his teacher, Bonnie Ziff, who were very pleased that Derek won the
award. His mother expressed her pride in him. She stated that having good,
concerned teachers, being a very involved parent and having a child who gave
extra effort to his schoolwork makes the difference in students being
successful. Mrs. Ziff stated that he is definitely deserving of the award
and that he is one of the most productive, conscientious and enjoyable
students she has had in her many years of teaching. Mrs. Ziff¹s nomination
Dear Council for Exceptional Children:
It is with great pleasure that I submit this letter of recommendation to you
on behalf of Derek DiTullio for the "Yes, I Can" Award. I have had the
satisfaction of watching Derek participate in a community service club
called "Hands for Service" for the past three years and been his learning
support teacher for mathematics.
The club has a very diverse population including students of color, various
religions, exceptionalities, socio-economic levels and personalities. These
students all come together with the goal of helping others. "Hands for
Service" adopts an animal at the Pittsburgh Zoo with membership dues, helps
participants of the Special Olympics three times a year, participates
monthly with the wheelchair patients at Manor Care Nursing Home, collects
toiletries and provides a monthly lunch for Miryams Women¹s Shelter,
participates in and helps plan the CHANGES Program-an exchange program
between an inner city school and suburban School, and successfully raises
enough money for one wish for The Make-A-Wish Foundation. Without the help,
loyalty, dedication of students like Derek, this club would not be the
success it is today nor would membership be consistently at 200 students
Derek is extremely dyslexic. His books are on tape and tests must be read
to him line by line. Mathematics is particularly difficult for Derek, due
to line spacing and small print. He does very well in computation, but
needs support for numeration and application. Despite needing these
accommodations, Derek has consistently been an honor roll student and counts
and balances the club¹s deposits and account. He is a very hard worker and
this shows in his private life as well. Derek is an Eagle Scout and a
volunteer fire fighter.
As a Professionally Recognized Special Educator, I have had many hard
working students in my classroom. Derek is very special to me. He
consistently proves that a disability is only a liability if you make it
one. I am extremely proud of Derek DiTullio and he would be a very
deserving recipient of the "Yes I Can" award.
Bonnie Ziff,Special Education Teacher and Hands for Service Sponsor.
PFCEC and Professional Chapter 104 extend their congratulations to Derek,
his family and his teachers.
President, Chapter 104