Stanley transforms Liberty community

Brigitte Larkin, Social Media Director

Liberty was one of five in the state and one of 220 in the nation to receive National Banner Status as a Special Olympics Unified Champion School this year.
This achievement wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work of our LRC2 teacher, Crystal Stanley. In only two years at Liberty, she created the now nationally recognized program.
But the Unified program is only a sliver of impact Stanley has on Liberty community.
“She teaches academic things, but that’s only a part of what she does. She also teaches life skills and structure and works with getting students into the community,” principal Sean Martin said.
Despite the challenges her wide-ranging role holds, she tackles her job with an optimistic and genuine outlook.
“Every student has the opportunity for a job, for independence, for a life!” Stanley said. “I love helping students and families realize that. Not every person’s future looks exactly the same, but I work hard to help them find their true success and push them to see possibilities they didn’t know were out there!”
Her efforts and outlook are paying off; students appreciate her and the impact of her commitment to inclusion.
“She’s gonna miss us, and we’re gonna miss her too. The class of 2020. Me, Josh, and Yiquan, so we’ll definitely try to visit her,” junior Hannah Jorgenson said.
Part of what inspired Stanley to go into the teaching profession was growing up with a stutter. She struggled with this when she was younger and even received speech therapy to help.

“It is hard growing up being ‘different,’ and people can make assumptions based on you as a person by those differences. I believe this ‘difference’ has made me a stronger person and helped me to find this field of work and overall my true passion in Unified programs,” Stanley said.
This passion for Unified programs is creating a lasting impact on the Liberty community.
“Liberty has always been pretty good at being nice to people, but there’s a difference between being nice and being really accepting and supportive. She has built us closer to being actively accepting and supportive. She’s helping to really change and grow a culture,” Martin said.
With the addition of Unified Robotics, Basketball, and Soccer, Liberty is becoming that more inclusive culture.
“Students without disabilities are starting to see that all people are capable of being contributing members of their community,” Stanley said. “The Unified program is not about treating people like they’re special, it’s about having a student community that accepts everyone, meets them where they are, and helps them to achieve their greatest potential.”
The student body can learn from the compassion and drive Stanley embodies every day in her job.
“Students right now can see in Ms. Stanley how one person who has a great idea can have a tremendous impact on so many people around them,” Martin said.