Malone remembers grandparents, friends with Locks of Love donation

To observe Breast Cancer Awareness Month, collaborative teacher Erin Malone at Discovery Middle School donated her trimmed hair strands to Locks of Love.

Erin Malone holds her donation to Locks of Love.

Malone’s donation honors her grandparents Cecil and Lucille Bilbo and a friend, Dr. Betty Attaway Fink. They all died from cancer.

Her gesture also pays tribute to aunt Rosemary Cowsert “and my aunt’s best friend Genie Lou Hamilton, who I also was close with,” Malone said.

Malone had 10-inch lengths of her hair cut by Melissa with Salon Papillion on Capshaw Road.

The non-profit Locks of Love organization supplies hairpieces to needy American and Canadian individuals younger than 21 years who have long-term, medical hair loss. The hairpieces help these individuals to face the world with self-esteem and confidence (locksoflove.org).

During her career, Malone worked as a fifth-grade inclusion teacher at Lucedale (Miss.) Intermediate School. She also taught students with autism at Harrison County Child Development Center in Gulfport, Miss.

After graduating from Poplarville (Miss.) High School, Malone earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at William Carey College.

Malone’s peers and relatives led her to teach in special education. “I grew up with neighborhood kids and a few relatives with disabilities. It was never an issue or taboo for me to be around them, befriend them or love them,” Malone said.

“A person is a person no matter what disability they have,” she said. Ironically, some of the happiest children she has meet were disabled but were grateful for “what they were able to do and didn’t focus on what they couldn’t do.”

At Discovery, Malone collaborates with math, language arts and science teachers, especially those using individualized education plans (IEP). “An IEP is designed to help students with disabilities in the classroom and school setting,” she said.

The teachers work in both inclusive and non-inclusive settings. In an inclusive setting, “students with IEPs are in the general population classroom with a collaborative teacher,” Malone said. The collaborative teacher is not present in non-inclusive settings, but students do have an IEP (with accommodations and modifications).

Her husband Wesley works as project manager with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.

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