Linsey Strunga

Linsey Strunga’s passion is working with children, whether in or out of the classroom.

Strunga is a 2017 graduate of Coastal Carolina and is currently in her third year of teaching and third year working at Conway’s Black Water Middle School.

Strunga teaches children with moderate to severe disabilities. She has 15 students in her current class, spanning grades 6 through 8.

“I teach them functional life skills and functional academics,” Strunga said. “They typically stay with me for the full three years.”

The teacher gets to see some of her original students move on to high school at the end of this year.

Teaching students who are all on different levels intellectually and grade level-wise poses challenges, but Strunga loves making a difference in their lives. She incorporates holidays and current events into her daily lessons and gets her students engaged with hands-on activities.

“They really like cooking and anything arts and crafts,” Strunga said.

Strunga moved to the Grand Strand from Chicago to attend CCU. She said her college professors had a huge impact on her and provided her with great classroom experience while she was still in college.

“We had a very small cohort,” Strunga said of her experience. “Our professors were very involved with our classes and field experiences. I’m still in touch with many professors.”

During the summers, Strunga works at Camp Smiles, a local program for children with rare or profound disabilities. Strunga started the camp five years ago with a former CCU professor.

“Camp Smiles is the only special needs camp in Horry County for children moderate to severe disabilities,” Strunga said.

Last year, Camp Smiles welcomed 26 kids. Their days consisted of music, movement, literacy, and art activities.

“There are no stresses,” Strunga said. “I get to have fun with them all day long. I don’t know what I’d do with my summers without Camp Smiles.”

The five week summer program runs from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. 4 days a week and currently operates out of Bridgewater Academy in Myrtle Beach.

Strunga hopes to expand and offer a second camp closer to Conway for families in Conway and Aynor. There is no tuition cost to attend Camp Smiles. The program is run solely on donations, with several fundraisers held throughout the year. Learn more about Camp Smiles at www.facebook.com/

campsmilesgs.

Strunga, whose mother is a teacher in Florida, said she always had a connection with children with disabilities, standing up for bullied children and making everyone feel important and loved.

“The kids are the drive for it all,” she said. “They look forward to seeing me every day. Even on the roughest days, I know I need to be there for them.”

Strunga lives in the Myrtle Beach area with her boyfriend, her roommate, and two dogs. She is hoping to buy a house in Horry County in the near future.

Teacher of the Month is sponsored by Sparks Toyota. Nominate your favorite teachers online at myhorrynews.com/contests.

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