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Teaching with muscular dystrophy: a woman’s journey back to the (virtual) classroom

Shylah Cutbirth of Midland was faced with a difficult decision when her muscular dystrophy made it almost impossible to continue teaching.
Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 8:23 PM CST
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MIDLAND, Texas (KOSA) - Shylah Cutbirth of Midland was faced with a difficult decision when her muscular dystrophy made it almost impossible to continue teaching.

But she didn’t want to give up her dream of being an educator.

Cutbirth was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy in seventh grade - and as the disease progressed, it got more challenging for her to do everyday tasks like climb stairs or walk.

After she started teaching second grade in Midland, it became nearly impossible for her to walk around the classroom without falling.

“You have to be up and working with them and moving around. So I would go home and go straight to bed every day. Go to work and then go straight to bed because I was so exhausted. I just knew that it was getting too much on me. I wasn’t physically able to do it that much anymore,” said Cutbirth.

Cutbirth started another job with the Muscular Dystrophy Association in Midland, but her love for teaching never faded.

When COVID-19 forced schools into e-learning, she saw an opportunity to get back in the classroom with the Lone Star Online Academy.

“It’s been the biggest blessing for me because it’s the perfect balance of being able to be with my kids that I love and being able to teach them, but also I’m physically able to do everything I need to do at home,” said Cutbirth.

While she loves teaching again, she says there are elements of the brick-and-mortar classroom that she misses.

“So many times on this computer screen, I just want to reach through and just give them a big hug. Sometimes we do, seriously. sometimes I’m like give me a hug, and we’re like hugging like this,” said Cutbirth.

Cutbirth says she didn’t know if she’d ever teach again but added that she’s beyond grateful for the opportunity to continue educating.

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