After visiting Fulton last week to recognize a local special education teacher, advocate Frank Gayaldo wants to leave the Fulton Education Center with a parting gift.
"Along with the $500 adaptive musical equipment grant our foundation has already presented (teacher Kara) Wilkerson for her special education class, we also would like to offer another matching grant to go towards the purchase of a gathering drum for her classroom," Gayaldo said. "If the Fulton community will come up with $500, we will immediately match them."
Gayaldo is the founder of the World Autism and Savant Foundation, which, he said, works to bring tried and true special education techniques to classrooms around the world, including China. He became involved in the foundation through various business connections.
Gayaldo said he loved his time in Fulton and appreciated the effort the city and area businesses put into helping and employing special needs individuals.
"Thanks again to the Fulton mayor, Callaway commissioners, Callaway Chamber of Commerce, Fulton School District, Re-Made for a Purpose and Kara Wilkerson for such a warm welcome," he said.
During his presentation, Gayaldo said Wilkerson — who has worked in Fulton Public Schools for five years — is an exemplary and compassionate educator.
According to some studies, bringing music into the classroom is a great way to connect with children who have special needs, including cognitive disabilities.
One study from Niagara University stated, "(Music) is a sophisticated cognitive, linguistic, social and psychological treatment. Music provides a form of compensation for those with language impairments as well as a means of facilitating language development."
It also mentioned benefits in attention, functioning of motor skills, self-expression and memory as children learn to play instruments and follow tunes.
Gayaldo wants to contribute a set of gathering drums to the classroom.
"A large 'gathering drum' is a fun, interactive musical tool that teachers can utilize to create a sense of unity (among) their students," he said. "The self-regulation required to keep a group beat also can give a struggling student a tangible life skill. It also can serve as a fun reward when the class is responding well to instruction."
According to Tamara Tateosian, executive director of the Callaway Chamber of Commerce, the instrument will cost $1,000. Fulton has to raise $500.
"If anyone is interested in contributing towards the drum, they can contact the chamber," she said.
The Callaway Chamber can be reached at 573-642-3055 or firstname.lastname@example.org.