Cornelia Bodorin has a big dream: to completely overhaul Moldova’s educational system for people with disabilities.
“I want to create a (school that’s like a) little Perkins school,” said Bodorin, an associate professor at the Ion Creangă Pedagogical State University in Chisinau. “Let’s change the educational system in Moldova!”
Bodorin is one of 15 participants in this year’s Educational Leadership Program at Perkins School for the Blind. She plans to use her six months on the school’s Watertown, Massachusetts, campus to immerse herself in Perkins’ educational model and student life.
Bodorin has a doctorate in special psychology and is pursuing a second doctorate in special pedagogy. She also co-founded the first NGO for people with multiple disabilities in Moldova and has worked as a speech therapist with children who are deaf.
“I like to teach children to speak, because I know if they speak an oral language they can work, they can live, they can make money, they can live easier,” she said. “I can help change their lives.”
Bodorin is also a champion for children with disabilities, appearing often on radio and television to advocate for inclusion and acceptance. More children with disabilities have joined mainstream education since Moldova closed its special schools, she said.
“Teachers are afraid,” Bodorin said. “They don’t understand how and why to educate these children. They ask, ‘Why me? Why in my class?’ I also try to work with parents of (non-disabled) children, because they don’t accept children with special needs. I want to teach them, step by step.”
Bodorin is thrilled to be the first ELP participant from Moldova. While on campus, she plans to volunteer in the classroom in her spare time, to stay close to the student experience.
“For me, it’s very important to be near the children, eat with them, to live in their system,” she said. “This is an opportunity to really study the model with these very special, very beautiful children.”
Bodorin hopes to write a textbook when she returns home and create new curriculum, based on her Perkins experience.
“It’s a big opportunity for me to be here, for such a long time, because we have so much to learn,” she said.
Bodorin knows making changes in her country will be difficult, but she’s confident her new knowledge and enthusiasm will inspire her students and colleagues.
“I will look for people who have the same goals, who want change,” she said. “I have a good team in Moldova. In the future, we’ll be large! I know we will be successful.”