Elaine Replansky Savoy received her undergraduate degree from LaSalle University with a double major in Elementary and Special Education. After a few years working in special education in public school, she earned a Master’s in Reading, Writing and Literacy from the University of Pennsylvania and she became a Certified Reading Specialist.
Elaine has been a Special Education teacher for 13 years and is currently working with elementary school students in grades K through 3 teaching reading. Elaine credits Delaware Valley Friends School for inspiring her to become a special education teacher.
Elaine was recently honored as Delaware Valley Friends School's 2015-16 Alumna of the Year Award recipient. Read the text of her inspiring remarks here.
When did you come to DVFS, and from where?
I came to DV in 11th grade from Friends Central.
Can you tell us a little bit about your learning difference and your struggles in school?
I was constantly getting “A”s for content and “F”s for mechanics. I struggled to cope with dyslexia and ADHD. My one regret - and my parents say the same - is that I didn’t come to DV earlier.
What changed for you at DVFS?
DV completely changed my life. The day I went to visit, we were in math class doing geometry. I had no idea what I was doing and was having a lot of anxiety. I began to panic. There were only six kids in class and the teacher just knew that I was having trouble. He came over and simply asked, “Can I work with you on this?” There was no judging, only kindness. Having experienced this kind of warmth and caring at DV, I struggled in my first years of teaching with students just a few years younger than me who couldn’t read and who hadn’t had someone to help them in the same way that DV helped me.
Do you have any special memories from your time at DVFS?
Norma Gottlieb was my Advisor - and I loved her. She never judged, but guided, gently. Her cooking class was fabulous - I won the Golden Rolling Pin Contest with now Chef Eric Yost on my team. We took a field trip to downtown Philadelphia with Norma. We saw a show and went to galleries. That introduction to the culture of the city has stayed with me - and it was a lot of fun.
I had Andy for History, and I did a presentation on diversity in his class. He asked me to also present it to his Middle School class, which required me to adjust the presentation for the different audiences. It went really well, and Andy asked if I would like to become his assistant for his middle school history class. Because of him and that experience, I became interested in teaching. I volunteered at The Timothy School and ultimately decided to become a special education teacher.
I joined the yearbook staff. I was someone with a lot of spelling issues, but working on the yearbook I learned new skills and polished some things I had been working on personally in developing my reading and writing talents. It was a great experience.
Working with the technology that we had at DV was also very memorable. That was never part of my world before, so each student having his or her own laptop was a big deal. We had only one tech person at that time - so we were all students and teachers in that area - sharing tips and how to do things. Having the technology and assistive tools available to us took the shame out of having difficulty with spelling. It got of rid of my “F” in mechanics and taught me that there are other ways of doing things - tools that can help students focus on their potential rather than on their problems. I use technology in my classroom all the time now.
What do you think the long-term value of DV education has been for you?
The community, the Quaker environment, and self-advocacy skills.
Relationships built at DVFS go far beyond just the classroom. Having experiences like ABLE, service projects, cooking allows students to get to know people from other grades. Delaware Valley Friends is a place where you feel understood, appreciated and supported.
I loved the Quaker background - having that regular Meeting for Worship time to sit with the community and just to be and have a time for quiet focus was great, and I miss that working in public school.
DV taught me that getting the tools and the help that you need is the most crucial part of success. I was so well armed and prepared to talk to professors about how I learn and what I needed to be successful in their class. Even in graduate school, when I’d been out of the classroom for a while, I knew that I still had that skill.
Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience at DVFS?
What DV does for kids it inspires them to do for others. For myself, I became a teacher because I was at DVFS - no doubt. Others have found a niche that really works for them because of a teacher or an experience they had at DV.
There was no giving up at DV - you worked until you worked it out. Every option, every idea, every resource was explored until exhausted. That was the commitment, the dedication of the faculty - and they are what made all the difference for me.