The Edmond Sun
Longtime Oklahoma Christian University professor and coach Max Dobson was honored Monday night by the Edmond Public Schools for his decades of work with the district’s special-needs children.
Dobson will retire from Oklahoma Christian at the end of this school year. More than 100 people attending the Edmond Board of Education meeting gave Dobson a standing ovation. It was the latest in a series of honors for Dobson, who also was named as a “Devon Community Hero” by the Oklahoma City Thunder in December.
“Many lives have been changed because of Dr. Dobson’s influence,” said Nancy Goosen, the director of special services for Edmond Public Schools. “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. Dr. Dobson spent 47 years at Oklahoma Christian University and dedicated a total of 52 years to teaching students.
“… Dr. Dobson, thank you for your many years of selfless service to our students with disabilities, to our Edmond Public Schools personnel and to the college students at OC. You have touched all of our hearts with your hugs, your smile and your love.”
Dobson began teaching at Oklahoma Christian in 1966. He has spent time as baseball coach, women’s basketball coach and athletic director at OC in addition to his duties as a physical education professor. He will tell you one of the most well-known women’s basketball coaches he taught is Sherry Coale. He guided the baseball team to a third-place finish in the 1972 NAIA World Series.
“In 1976, a mother with a special-needs child called to see if there was a class for her disabled child to interact with college students and she begged me to start a program on the university level,” Dobson said.
Over time Dobson created the course title and credit for college students to have a lab with hands-on experiences with children who have moderate to severe/profound levels of disabilities.
He began a class called “Teaching the Exceptional Child,” which over the years has involved thousands of students on the collegiate level as well as children in the elementary schools interact together.
Many of Dobson’s graduates are now working in school districts serving children with disabilities and their families.
‘We have seen tender friendships form between the children and the college students each semester,” Goosen said.
Initially he recruited his baseball players to play with the students. He worked to raise funds for the program and Edmond school officials noted that the Oklahoma Christian Women’s Association and OC alumni have provided most of the money to purchase equipment for Dobson’s class.
Dobson estimates that at least 3,000 OC students have taken the class and assisted in his efforts to aid special-needs children. Dobson teaches the class in The Barn on OC’s campus every Wednesday and Friday during the academic year.
More than 80 special-needs students currently participate in the program, along with 24 teachers from Edmond Public Schools, allowing the university to partner with a key player in local secondary education. Goosen said the classes at OC are “the highlight of the week” for the district’s special-needs students and teachers.
From playing jump rope with rhymes to simply feeling the sensation of movement on the trampoline, each child finds activities that bring them laughter and smiles.
“Our students truly live for their day to go to OC to ride the big tricycles and race around the gym to even playing with the crazy big soccer ball,” Goosen said.
Anticipation filled with excitement can be seen on each child’s face as the parachute rises high in the air and the squeal of their voices as everyone gets under the parachute, brings a smile to everyone watching them as they play.
“This community partnership built by Dr. Dobson between Edmond Public Schools and Oklahoma Christian University provides mutual benefits and opportunities,” Goosen said. “For the college students, they gain experience teaching children with disabilities which prepares them to be a better teacher in the field of education. For our students with disabilities, they receive the benefit of enhancing their motor skills in a fun, safe and enriching environment building on their social and emotional development.
“Each week, our children with disabilities load the buses with anticipation to meet their friends at OC. Upon arrival, each child is met with a smile, a hug and a kind word from one of the college students, as well as Dr. Dobson, who will tell you one of the greatest blessings he has received is spending time with children who might never make a jump shot, but whose spirits have taught him something about God’s love.”