Education Major Organizes Local Elementary School Event
A family connection and high school experience inspired Maddie Ayers ’25 to bring Halloween fun to families in the Annville-Cleona School District. Ayers, an early childhood education and special education major, coordinated a Monster Mash event for special needs elementary students.
“Growing up with an autistic brother and realizing some of the challenges he faced, I knew I wanted to make a difference and develop a sense of belonging for students like him,” said Ayers, who participated in a similar event as a high school student.
“After talking to a few of my friends, they said I should try to bring an idea like this to LVC, and from there, I ran with it. I changed many of the details and layout to cater to what I envisioned and make it unique,” she added.
Ayers approached Jen Liedtka ’92, M’00, LVC’s service and volunteerism coordinator, and Jen Evans, director of student engagement, who connected her with the district and the College’s student clubs. On the district side of the event planning, Ayers worked with LVC alumna Marleigh [Palmer] Heavel ’18 and Sierra Martz, autistic support teachers.
“I felt some nostalgia working so closely with the LVC students, reminiscing on my time as a student,” said Heavel. “It was incredible to see future teachers, leaders, and professionals make such an impact on our students with exceptionalities.”
LVC students ran craft and activity stations, decorated the space, and served as buddies to younger students throughout the event.
“The reactions of the elementary students and their families were priceless. I truly feel like I have their smiles and laughs etched in my memory,” said Ayers. “Everyone played a significant role in making this a successful reality, and it warms my heart to know so many people wanted to be a part of it. I am excited to make this an annual event, along with hopefully adding other events for students with special needs.”
Heavel added, “The families were thrilled! I think their favorite part was the thoughtfulness and consideration made unconditionally with their children’s needs in mind. It was so nice to see families sit back and watch their children interact and enjoy the event in a safe place.”
While at LVC, Heavel served as a Student Government member and was part of the dance team. Meanwhile, Ayers serves with Gamma Sigma Sigma, a national service sorority with an LVC chapter. Ayers is also a member of Student Government, a Mosaic Mentor, a residential assistant, and involved in the two education clubs on campus.
Ayers looks forward to a career as a special education teacher in a life skills or autistic support classroom.
“If the opportunity arises, I would love to work as an administrator for a school’s special education department and strengthen the opportunities for students with special education,” Ayers said.