Monday, December 27, 2010
Teacher Shares Special Bond with Former Student
CARROLLWOOD, Fla. -- He's a kid in a candy store, although it's not bubble gum and lollipops making him gasp with delight. Tony Browdy, 21, instead is transfixed by air conditioner filters, patterned floor tiles and paint samples.
Tony is no kid, either, although his enthusiasm and gratitude are childlike as he charges through the Lowe's store in Carrollwood, his wonderland, with Judy Shargaa trailing behind. He stops and rubs Shargaa on the head to show his joy.
"He loves the texture of my hair," says Shargaa. "He says it feels like spider webs. Yeah, that's just the look I was going for."
It doesn't take long to pick up on the affection and easy camaraderie between the young man with autism and his warmhearted former teacher, who still tries to sneak in a lesson or two during their adventures. Shargaa first met Tony when he was a young boy who never spoke; she agreed to become a surrogate parent for him as he made his way through the school system. Later, she taught him at the Caminiti Exceptional School in Tampa.