If you’re heading to a checkout counter this weekend, make sure to pick up the latest issue of People magazine on stands now.
The pages of the weekly entertainment magazine, which has Mary Tyler Moore star Valerie Harper on the cover, features a profile on 31-year-old Pine-Richland High School wrestling coach Ben Rings.
Rings, a special education instructor who teaches life skills at the high school, is honored by the magazine for being an “Amazing Teacher.”
Rings was recognized for popular "peer buddies" program pairing special needs students with non-special needs students. As part of peer buddies, mainstream kids mentor those with special needs.
Several of the students on Rings' wrestling team, including 17-year-old Andrew Schnepp, who has Asperser’s, also are autistic.
“The students with special needs get a lot out of it, but so do the others,” Rings, a former Army sergeant, told the magazine of the progam.
As for Andrew, he credits the program with helping him make friends.
“Andrew’s part of a team now. They say hi. They goof off. They make him feel normal,” Andrew’s mom, Mary Schnepp told the magazine
Since Rings began training peer buddies in 2009, the program has grown from 30 to 132 volunteers.
For more on Rings’ profile in People magazine, click here.
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