Born with Treacher Collins Syndrome, a rare congenital disorder resulting in facial anomaly and hearing loss, Sam's journey has been one of resilience and determination. Having undergone eight surgeries as a child, he has firsthand experience of the challenges faced by individuals with differences. However, instead of letting these challenges define him, Sam used them as a stepping stone to make a difference in the world.
His personal experiences, both as a student with a difference and later as a teacher in an inclusive classroom, made him realize the pressing need to improve awareness and understanding about differences. Recognizing this gap, Sam took his story on the road in 2012. Since then, he has visited more than 300 schools across the country, touching the lives of over 60,000 students of different ages. Drazin says his interactions have not only been a source of inspiration for these students but have also fostered a sense of empathy and understanding, one student said after participating in a presentation, ‘Thank you, thank you for your willingness to share your story and invite us all to be more understanding and compassionate!’.
Drazin is the Founder and Executive Director of Changing Perspectives, an educational nonprofit organization with a mission to educate, empower, and inspire students from PreK through High School. The organization's ultimate goal is to nurture the change-makers of tomorrow and build a more inclusive, just, and equitable society.
Changing Perspectives partners with schools and school districts across the country to promote social-emotional learning and cultivate inclusive and equitable learning communities for all students. They support schools in various ways, including providing curriculum resources, individual coaching, professional development training, and resources for families. Their curriculum focuses on social-emotional learning and disability awareness, emphasizing the importance of understanding and empathy.
Sam's dedication to the cause is evident in the testimonials from educators and students alike. An educator from Maryland mentioned, "All of our (class) conversations were way deeper than I ever expected. I feel that I am closer with all of my students this year than in past years, even with distance learning." Another educator from Vermont expressed appreciation for the flexibility of the curriculum, saying, "I like that I can focus on a topic area versus going through a rigid program. I love, love, love the book lists."
Today, Sam Drazin resides in Northern California with his dogs, Cami and Copper. His life and work stand as a testament to the power of resilience, empathy, and the belief that every individual, irrespective of their differences, has the potential to bring about positive change in the world.
For those interested in learning more about Sam Drazin and his incredible journey, or about the impactful work being done by Changing Perspectives, you can visit https://changingperspectivesnow.org