Jessica Keogh, M. Ed, has been an educator for a decade and currently works as an Emotional Support Teacher for West Chester Area School District. She also runs a nonprofit, Faith Above My Ability, committed to educating, advocating, and empowering people with disabilities to live their most empowered lives. Aspiring to become a state legislator, Jessica is working on her doctorate in Educational Policy and Leadership.
The equitable employment of people with disabilities is important to Jessica because it is an experience she has lived and knows all too well. Jessica shared: “When I started applying to colleges, I felt lost, stressed, and a range of other emotions. I knew I was capable of attending college and succeeding as an educator – something I have aspired to I was in elementary school. But how would I do this with a disability? How would I wake up every morning to get ready for my teaching job that I prepared so hard for? Like so many other workers with disabilities, I require help getting ready for my day along with other basic activities of daily living.”
“After graduating college and obtaining my first teaching job, I felt a sense of accomplishment and pure joy, much different than the emotions I was feeling four years earlier. I was working as an Emotional Support Teacher in Reading, PA, living on my own, and fulfilling my purpose.”
“Within six months of teaching, I received notice that because of my income, I no longer qualified for the care attendant services I rely on to get ready to work. This was something I never expected, and the services are something I simply can’t live without. Upon receiving this notification, the feelings of stress and loss immediately re-emerged. This time, I utilized the emotions as a catalyst for change and began fiercely advocating for more equitable legislation for people with disabilities. My driving force has always been my students and facing these systemic barriers of oppression is not something I want my kids (students) to live through.”
“Legislation surrounding workers with disabilities is crucial in creating a more inclusive society. Thanks to the dedication and support of so many advocates, Act 69 was signed into legislation in July 2021 and provides more equitable access to employment for people with disabilities while providing the opportunity maintain necessary services such as care attendants –something I could have only dreamed of in the beginning of my advocacy journey.”