By Will Hoheisel
CCC Journalism Program
BLACKWOOD – In January 2015, Joanne Kinzy will reach a milestone when she celebrates her 25th year of working in Camden County College’s Disability Services Department.
Her interest in and dedication to this field began while she was attending Burlington County College to major in psychology. She was working at her grandfather’s restaurant one day when a teacher couple befriended her and offered a proposition.
“[The husband] said to me, ‘Do you like working with kids and do you have … patience for working with children?’” Kinzy said this week.
She answered ‘yes,’ and the couple told her about an opening for a special education teacher at a sheltered workshop for people with cognitive disabilities (people with limited academic skills).
Heeding their advice, Kinzy went to the workshop. Afterward, she was so inspired by her experience there that she transferred to Rowan University to study “teaching methods” on how to work with students who had disabilities. Eventually, she graduated from Rowan with a master of arts degree in learning disabilities.
In January 1990, Kinzy started working as an assistant in the DSD. Four years later, she became the director of the department and has remained so ever since.
As director of the DSD, Kinzy makes sure that students with either physical or intellectual disabilities receive the support they need to succeed. One way she does this is by providing accommodations to students based on what they require.
Robin Hester, a blind student majoring in communications, received some physical accommodations. One was a personal note taker, and the other came personally from Kinzy.
“I get [my books] from the bookstore, and I bring them to [Kinzy], and she then calls the publisher to have them converted to an e-book or … CD so I can ‘read’ them on my computer because I have JAWS [an online read-aloud program],” Hester said.
In addition to providing accommodations, Amanda Mainart, an early childhood education major who has Asperger Syndrome, believes Ms. Kinzy is also a great person to connect with.
“Her personality really reaches out to a lot of people. There are different peers that look up to her as a wonderful role model and … as a great friend,” she said.
As to what lies ahead for her, Kinzy doesn’t see any change from where she is now.
“I’ll probably continue working for the disability department until I retire,” she said.