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My Story

In September 1989, I started my dream job as a high school Physical Education teacher. In March 1990, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). Despite the diagnosis, I managed to teach PE for six more exceptionally rewarding years. In September 1995, I took a medical leave of absence.  My dream of teaching PE until I retired was . . . POOF . . . . GONE! I was devastated! Now what?

One year later I returned to teaching, but I took a position at a different school. For the next five years, I struggled to find a course that embellished my teacher identity. I taught many different courses in a regular classroom, but this didn’t feel right. I felt like a zombie going through the motions with no emotion.  Does this sound familiar? I wasn’t a math, social studies, or learning assistance teacher. I was a PE teacher, and my passion was teaching PE. I became very depressed and very apathetic.  

I decided to leave teaching and went back to university.

The AHA moment 

In 2001 I enrolled in the Ph.D. program in Teacher Development at the University of Toronto. In 2004 I successfully defended my thesis, Renegotiating Identity: Exploring the Impact of Chronic Illness on the Identity of Three High School Teachers. I used a qualitative research methodology known as Arts-based Narrative Inquiry to gather my data.  This methodology allows the researcher to use stories, journal entries, drawings, poetry, music, conversation starters, etc. with a small sample of participants. For my research, I engaged two other teachers with MS in a variety of arts-based activities. The data I used to write my thesis led me to a life-changing AHA moment, which helped me to make sense of my story. Trina taught Math, and after a medical leave of absence due to MS, she returned to teaching Math. Anthony taught French, and after a medical leave of absence due to MS, he returned to teaching French. Patti taught Physical Education, and after a medical leave of absence due to MS, she DID NOT return to teaching Physical Education. WOW! I sure didn’t see this coming. I now understood why I took leaving PE so hard. Multiple sclerosis made this decision and not me. I had good reason to feel the way I did when I returned to teaching. I didn’t want to teach in the classroom.  This AHA moment validated my story of loss and permitted me to let go and move forward. 

My second DREAM job

In September 2004 I took a one year position as an Assistant Professor at Ithaca College in upper state New York in the Department of Health Promotion and Physical Education.  I taught courses in curriculum and instruction to students pursuing a teaching career in K-12 Health and Physical Education. I also supervised these same students during their teaching practicums. The self I once knew was back!! 


So you might be thinking, “Nice story, Patti, but what’s in it for me?”


I am offering you:

⇨ a safe and stimulating forum

⇨ opportunities to make sense of your lived experiences as an educator with autoimmune disease

⇨ steps towards letting go and moving forward

⇨ a place to learn, grow, and share

⇨ opportunities for networking and building connections

⇨ a renewal of your passion for life and teaching

More about ME

I live in a small town with my husband and two labrador retrievers named Bella (black) and Trooper (yellow).  Trooper and I just finished the training required for him to be my service dog. His ability to sense when I need his support amazes me every day.  

I like to crochet, walk, and spend time with friends.  I like the taste of good coffee and Greek food. My dad is my hero and my mom was my best cheerleader – lol!

I am a life-long learner.  I earned a Bachelor of Physical Education (UBC), Bachelor of Education (UBC), Masters of Science (Oregon), and Ph.D. (Toronto).  The highlight of all these years in school is defending my Ph.D. and being called Dr. Bevilacqua by the professors on my thesis committee.

I have a great sense of humor, like to volunteer in the community, and believe things happen for a reason.

So, are you ready to learn more about being an educator with autoimmune illness? Are you ready to engage with the content and will other readers? Are you eager to determine your own AHA moment?

Let’s do this!

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So if you’re an educator, in the broad sense of the word, and you have an autoimmune disease, this blog is for YOU!  Or, if you know an educator with an autoimmune disease, you will find a lot of valuable content here. Either way, you will find the posts engaging, nonjudgmental, insightful, and interactive. The posts will cover a variety of topics, but the focus will always be on teaching with/and/or autoimmune disease.