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Daughter Pays Tribute To Her Mom’s Dedication To Teaching

For 26 years, Bernice Larkin has taught students with disabilities for the Cincinnati Public School District. At UC’s Autumn Commencement, her daughter will thank Bernice on behalf of the students “who are not able to do so.”

Date: 11/22/2005
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Dottie Stover
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Sherrell and Bernice Larkin
Sherrell and Bernice Larkin

Bernice Larkin of Silverton is getting special recognition from her alma mater for guiding students on the pathway to success. The Pleasant Ridge Elementary special education teacher is one of four people to be honored as an outstanding Tristate teacher at the Dec. 10 University of Cincinnati Autumn Commencement. She’ll be presented with a $1,000 UC scholarship to award to a high school senior who plans to enter UC during the 2006-2007 academic year..

A UC committee comprised of students, faculty and staff selected Mrs. Larkin’s nomination – submitted by her daughter, Sherrell – from a total of 34 recommendations from UC students around the Tristate who are graduating during the 2005-2006 academic year.

Sherrell says success for her mother’s students includes something that many people take for granted – independence. Bernice Larkin has committed her career in the Cincinnati Public Schools to teaching children with disabilities, and she currently is a special education teacher for fourth-through-eighth grade students at Pleasant Ridge Elementary, formerly Bramble Elementary School. She earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education, a master’s degree in special education and a certificate in supervision from the University of Cincinnati.

Sherrell Larkin
Sherrell Larkin

Her daughter Sherrell, who graduates from UC in June, is working on a bachelor’s degree in personnel and industrial relations and a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Sherrell also is among UC’s first group of students to live in the Valentine House, a language-immersion house, where Sherrell is required to speak only Spanish during her time in the living, work and study quarters. She’s a graduate of Walnut Hills High School.

“I hear her talking about her students all the time, and how she cares about them,” Sherrell says. “I remember being the only second-grader who knew the proper terminology and degrees of mental retardation. But that’s why I thought to nominate her as an outstanding Tristate teacher, because her students can’t physically do so.

Bernice Larkin
Bernice Larkin

“She has patiently taught students their educational rubrics while preparing them to function independently in our society. Her students leave with a confident grasp of not only how to read and write, but how to count money, use restroom facilities and interact in social settings,” Sherrell says.

“Operating on a small budget, she has taken field trips by means of the public Metro bus and paid for activities with her own money. She has worked to provide her students and their families with simple household goods and daily meals.”

Sherrell says it’s her mother’s patience she remembers as she tries to tackle her own personal challenges. “She may work with students who aren’t potty-trained or can’t write, and that really makes me stop to think when I’m acting like the world is going to end because of some minor event in my life. I just think of her and the work she does with her students, and I realize that my cup is half full.”

“There’s always a way to reach a student in terms of learning,” says Bernice Larkin. “If it doesn’t work the first time, try something different. But never give up, no matter how frustrating it might be.”

Her daughter Sherrell says, “I am confident that her students would agree with me that Mrs. Larkin has made an impact on all the lives she has touched and encourages further personal development and education for all young people, regardless of pre-existing circumstances.”

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