Amanda Schwartz: The future of education and kindness

Amanda Schwartz in front of a Kent State poster.

Amanda Schwartz

Amanda Schwartz in front of a Kent State poster.

Hannah Levenson, Editor-in-chief

According to the World Health Organization, over one billion people, or fifteen percent, of the population live with some form of a physical disability. In 2019, the United States Census Bureau reported about over four percent of children in the United States live with a disability. Some disabilities are lifelong or chronic and others are temporary or acute. For Solon High School (SHS) senior Amanda Schwartz, her challenges began when she was born with congenital scoliosis and arthrogryposis.

Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine that most commonly affects adolescents. Arthrogryposis–also called arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC)–is a term used to describe a variety of conditions involving multiple joint contractures. A contracture is a condition where the range of motion of a joint is limited.

Image provided by

Schwartz has had around 39 surgeries to help correct problems with her spine, and has not had a surgery since Oct. 2016.

“Every six to eight months, I had to have a surgery,” Schwartz said. “I had titanium rods in my back to help me stand straighter. Sometimes they would get infected, sometimes they would snap–which was not fun, they snapped like three times. I don’t have them anymore, in 2016 they got infected a couple of times and snapped.”

Despite her health difficulties, Schwartz maintains a positive outlook on life and participates in activities like any teenager does.

“All disabilities are a little different,” Schwartz said. “In my case, I don’t think my disability limits me too much. I’m still able to do regular everyday things…I’m obsessed with theater, I’m in a musical right now…I started going to a theater camp going into first grade. I was in that camp until I was in ninth grade, and then I worked at the camp for two years.”

SHS senior Cece Messina, who has known Schwartz since first grade, expressed that Schwartz is the most positive person she knows.

“[Schwartz] is one of the strongest people I know,” Messina said. “I’ve never seen her get upset. I’ve never seen her angry. It’s just amazing to see her be so positive and it’s one of the biggest things I love about her. She’s just always so positive even when she went through [health struggles] with her back and her leg.”

In the fall of 2010, when Joanne Immormino was assigned to be Amanda’s aide in kindergarten, she developed a bond with Amanda that would last over a decade. Through the years, Immormino’s role in helping Schwartz has changed over time, watching Schwartz progress as she strives, physically, academically and personally. Additionally, Schwartz has grown up knowing Immormino’s children, and Immormino’s daughter taught Schwartz how to swim. This inspired Immormino’s daughter to become a physical therapist.

“When I started with [Schwartz] in kindergarten,” Immormino said. “There were so many more things I needed to do for her. And as she’s grown, I feel that I’ve grown with her…”

Now as a senior in high school, Schwartz spends her mornings at SHS and her afternoons at her Early Childhood Education Excel TECC program through Beachwood City Schools. Schwartz plans to be an elementary school teacher after college.

“[Teaching] is something I am passionate about,” Schwartz said. “I could have gotten [this passion] from my parents since they are both elementary school teachers. I just love working with kids…I think I’ve known I have wanted to be a teacher since I was seven.”

Immormino believes that because Schwartz could succeed in anything she tries.

“I think whatever [Schwartz] ends up doing, whether she stays in teaching or goes into something else,” Immormino said. “I think she will succeed because she has that passion for it, and I think she’ll make it happen. She’s got that ambition and will to do it.”