Hornback creates a legacy

Sarah Hornback poses for a photo after accepting the College of Education and Applied Human Sciences Dean’s Award for Outstanding Achievement for the 2021-22 academic year.

Between classes, work, student teaching, involvement in four student organizations, and caring for her grandparents, senior special education major Sarah Hornback keeps busy. But when Hornback is passionate about something, she makes time. And Hornback is certainly passionate about advocating for the disabled community.

Hornback’s interest in special education was first sparked by her grandmother, who was herself a special education teacher for more than 25 years. In her younger years Hornback swore she would never become a teacher. But her experiences from peer tutoring in a special education classroom during high school stuck with her. When her first major, nursing, didn’t work out, Hornback’s high school mentor, Kelli Burton, encouraged her to pursue special education.

Once in the program, her passion for special education and disability advocacy shone through. One of her professors, Connie Hodge, described Hornback as a “top-notch student” with an “infectious personality.”

“She’s a great advocate for Eastern,” Hodge said, “but then also a super advocate for students with special needs.”

But Hornback wanted to become involved in disability advocacy beyond the classroom. After learning about the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) in the spring of 2020, Hornback approached Mary Jo Krile, assistant professor of teaching, learning, and educational leadership, about wanting to be involved. Krile suggested that Hornback start her own chapter of CEC at Eastern Kentucky University.

With Krile as the new chapter’s advisor, Hornback got to work. She recruited five new members, and together they filed the paperwork and became a registered student organization. Hornback now serves as the president and founder of the EKU chapter of the organization.

The EKU chapter of CEC now holds monthly meetings, and hosts events centered around advocating for the disabled community. Some of the events they’ve hosted include Inclusion Trick or Treat, a donation drive for Active Day Center, and an Inclusion Across America book drive (which aims to promote exceptional children in literature by providing the children who attend with free books).

Hornback didn’t stop there, either. She wanted to start training special educators and speaking professionally. So Krile, now her mentor, suggested that Hornback submit presentation proposals to speak at the Council for Exceptional Children Convention and the Division of Autism and Developmental Disabilities Conference in 2022. Both of Sarah’s proposals were accepted.

In January, Hornback attended the Council for Exceptional Children Convention in Orlando, Florida and the Division of Autism and Developmental Disabilities Conference in Clearwater, Florida. At the Council for Exceptional Children Convention, Hornback presented about her experience founding a CEC chapter and gave advice on getting campus communities involved in CEC events.

At the Division of Autism and Developmental Disabilities Conference, Hornback delivered a 45 minute session about the use of visual activity schedules to a room of special education professionals.

Krile said that the presentations went well, and that the conferences, more than just the opportunity to speak, provided Hornback with the opportunity to network. Hornback met with vendors, graduate school representatives, and professionals and members of CEC chapters from around the world.

Speaking about going to the conferences with Hornback, Krile said, “All the people that I met that she talked to were like, ‘she has the energy; that shining light that we know she’s going to go far in this field.”

Hornback plans to continue advocating for the disabled community after college as well. One particular thing she would like to advocate for is accessibility in travel. Hornback herself loves to travel, but has found that oftentimes destinations and attractions lack the accessibility features that would allow other people to enjoy them.

“She’s very, very passionate about everybody with a disability having the same access to society, Krile said. “When she goes somewhere and sees it’s not accessible, it makes her very angry. And she’s like, ‘what are we doing to solve that?’”

Hornback has a plan to make travel better for those with disabilities. One of her goals for the future is to create an accessibility-focused travel agency that will help those with disabilities travel, complete with plans and trip guides that help people see the world safely and comfortably. Krile said Hornback hopes to present on accessibility in travel at next year’s CEC Convention.

After earning her degree, Hornback will be certified in teaching learning behavioral disorders and elementary education. She plans to move to Avon, Indiana, to be an elementary teacher. She has also applied for the special education master’s program at the University of North Dakota. One day, Hornback hopes to become a professor and teach the next generation of special education professionals.

(1) comment

Sammie Murray

Hornback is an amazing person and I am so glad he is doing what he is doing. He has been doing this for so long that it is something that he loves and can’t imagine doing anything else. He has always been a great leader in the community and I am proud of him! Read https://www.xsnoize.com/what-british-music-to-listen-to-while-writing-coursework/ article to get important coursewriting tips. The reason why I think so is that he has been able to build up a reputation for creating the best burger in town. This reputation was built up over a period of time because he was able to create a product that was both delicious and healthy.

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