Coronavirus News: Special education teacher gets students moving and grooving

EDISON, New Jersey (WABC) -- Meet truck driving, dance party hosting teacher Gena Shapiro. Her moxie's from Jersey, her accent's from Georgia, and her work ethic comes from her mom and dad.

"I believe if you're going to do something, then do it," she said. "Don't do it halfway."

Mrs. Shapiro's students at J.P. Stevens High School in Edison have autism, are 16-20 years old, and learn self-confidence, great manners, and real-life skills.

"Opening the Snack Shack, my kids some of them who couldn't even county money, you know, a year ago couldn't count money, and now they're totaling up the drawer at the end," she said. "They're counting money, they're making change."

Her students aren't the only ones who've taken notice.

"She makes learning so enjoyable that her kids just find an immense amount of joy in learning in her classroom," Principal Dr. Tony Shallop said.

In her truck, you see leftover snacks from this year that all went to support frontliners, along with thank you notes from her students.

"She's a fantastic teacher," Dr. Shallop said. "She's so dedicated, she's infinitely kind to her students, extraordinary amount of patience."

When Mrs. Shapiro decided it was time to shake things up, she worked the night shift and invited everyone to dress up and get their groove on.

"I was like, let's do it then," she said. "So I sent out an invitation, who wants to go, and the kids filled out a Google form with their name and what song request they wanted."

D.J. Herschel played the tunes, and everyone danced for an hour and a half.

Here's to you, Mrs. Shapiro, for shaking it up. And a big thank you to your paraprofessionals. too.


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