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June 20, 2013

Called 'Next Stephen Hawking,' teen is perfect on math exam

Physically challenged freshman visits classroom for first time to celebrate exam results

(Continued)

LEWISTON, N.Y. —

Skype, a mobile conferencing program which allows for video calls, brought the student stuck at home in his wheelchair into a setting he had never experienced before. Suddenly, he was part of a group. Suddenly, he was being called on to answer questions for everyone else to hear.

"To do well is difficult," Wanamaker said. "To get a 100 is outstanding. Throughout the entire year, I could hardly write a question to stump him. By the fall or early winter, we said to each other 'He's the next Stephen Hawking.'"

"This team of teachers are really amazing," high school Principal Paul Casseri said. "They've really gone the extra mile. And his mother tries to give him as close to a real experience as possible. His story is incredible in my eyes."

His education shifted with the inclusion of the Skyped lessons, his mother said. He went from a student receiving one-on-one instruction all the time, with very little interaction with people his own age, to needing to pick up on things he may not have noticed before.

The approach clicked with him and the opportunity to interact with other students helped him tremendously, she said.

"Sometimes being at home, he'd get to do one-on-one, which is great," Cathy Minderler said. "But when he did Skype into the class, it gave him a different perspective. There's some things you pick up on in that situation you wouldn't have noticed the other way.

"I've been adamant about him receiving a Regents diploma. I know he can do the work. It's just about beating the time constraints. Skyping helps. He can focus on that two times a week, where that's what he does during the day."

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