When eighth-grader Deklan Mangan is in math class at Troy Middle School, he’s actually viewing his teacher from his home on an iPad using FaceTime.
He watches the math problems being done on a whiteboard on the wall in the classroom, he sees his teacher when she steps into view, and he can hear everything that goes on during the 40-minute daily class.
Deklan is homebound because of an immune deficiency that has kept him out of classrooms most of his life.
He was also born with a rare congenital condition called Russell Silver syndrome, which causes growth abnormalities and resulted in his airway being three times smaller than normal.
He has other health problems, including stage 2 fibrosis of the liver, diabetes and asthma. His conditions all work against him when he goes out into public and he can easily become sick. Even a cold can mean a trip to the emergency room if his airway narrows in the slightest.
It’s been an uphill battle for parents Shannon and Sean Mangan to get him the proper education, because people don’t understand Deklan’s conditions, Shannon said.
In the past, some teachers sent home piles of homework for Deklan to scour through, which caused him a lot of anxiety. During a couple of years, schools didn’t want to give him grades for his work.
Shannon’s even been accused of having Munchhausen syndrome by proxy and causing her son to become ill.
“I really had to fight to find somebody to understand,” Shannon said, “even though I would give them all the paperwork from the doctors.”
But at Troy Middle School, math teacher Allison Schieffer is helping Deklan get the education he needs by use of the iPad. It’s a learning experience for everyone involved and this is the first time it’s been used there.
Schieffer wanted to make Deklan feel as much a part of the classroom as the other students. She tried putting the iPad on a tripod but it made Deklan too conspicuous. Now she props the iPad on a desk – he can see the whiteboard and his classmates can see him.
“It just made sense,” Schieffer said, “He’s sitting on a desk , he feels like [other] students and he’s at the same eye level.”
When they split into groups to work on problems, Deklan joins the group via the iPad.
When they play math games and move around the room, Schieffer or another student hold Deklan’s iPad so he can participate.
Deklan is a part of everything that happens in that class. He raises his hand if he knows an answer’ he even asks to use the bathroom.
“The fact that he is so attentive and participates makes it so much more successful,” Schieffer said.
Shannon has always encouraged teachers to treat Deklan like anyone else, give him the same type of work and test him the same way. Because if there’s ever a way for Deklan to return to school someday, she doesn’t want him to not understand what’s going on.
“He’s very intelligent,” Shannon said. “He didn’t get pushed until Troy Middle School.”
Deklan also FaceTimes with his English/language arts class daily. Shannon would like him to be able to do the same with social studies and science as well.
Despite his health problems, Deklan is very much a typical 14-year-old with a sarcastic sense of humor. Although he can’t go out and play with friends, he has met some through X-Box chat rooms and they play games together online.
Deklan loves to race radio control cars, especially with his uncle. He goes fishing with his dad, Skypes with his older brother, Barrett, and lets his older sister Peytan help him with school work.
He loves reptiles and has been known to show off his live snakes and geckos to classmates during break times.
He enjoys learning, but doesn’t particularly like school. But this year school has been much different for the teen, thanks to technology and a wonderful math teacher.
“She’s the best teacher I have ever had,” Deklan said.