Superintendent’s Spotlight: Charlotte Gunther


Superintendent’s Spotlight: Charlotte Gunther

November 10, 2022

Each week, Warwick Valley Central School District Superintendent Dr. David Leach shines the Superintendent’s Spotlight on one of Warwick Valley’s amazing students. Superintendent’s Spotlights feature students who reach goals, face challenges, and are role models to their peers.

WVMS student Charlotte Gunther, who is legally blind, knew she wanted to participate in a sport as she was planning for her seventh grade year. When swimming came to mind, Charlotte’s mom started the conversation with district administrators, who put her in contact with WVHS teacher and swim coach Christine Mahon.

“Ms. Mahon said that there was a JV team that I could practice on until I was good enough to do some meets,” said Charlotte, who dove right into the opportunity.

Ms. Mahon was excited to welcome Charlotte and her enthusiasm to the program.

“Charlotte practiced with the team and participated in all our team building activities like pre-meet pasta parties, our water polo game,” said Coach Mahon. “She has been coming to home meets to cheer on the varsity girls, who have taken turns helping her learn how to correctly make turns off the wall, use the kickboard and fins, and dive off the blocks.”

Charlotte said her teammates started her off with different strokes to practice on her own, and then would swim next to her once she began swimming laps. That way, they could let Charlotte know where the flags were and allow her to orient herself in the pool.

“It let me know when I was halfway to the other side of the pool, then I started being able to sense where the wall was and how much time it took to get there,” explained Charlotte. “So, I was able to know when to put my hands up on the board so I didn’t crash into the wall.”

Coach Mahon said Charlotte was receptive to the help and support she received.

“She’s highly motivated to be successful,” added Coach Mahon. “Charlotte was an inspiration to the entire team!”

Alyssa Arato, a teacher of the blind and visually impaired who works closely with Charlotte has also seen Charlotte’s hard work in action.

“Not only is Charlotte a hard worker, but she is such a great self advocate,” said Ms. Arato. “She’s done a few presentations for the seventh grade, sharing her story and teaching them about things like how she uses her cane in the hallways; she’s talked about braille, so they can experience that. She loves sharing it.”

Charlotte has also shared insights from her own Orientation Mobility class – which has helped her build cane skills – and given her classmates guidance on cane etiquette.

“O and M is all about learning how to use the cane, working on street crossings, and things like that,” Charlotte said.

And as for the cane etiquette part of her presentations?

“That’s so no one else tries to jump over it in the hall!”

Charlotte has also brought her advocacy to the WVMS Student Senate this year, after having a talk with teacher and senate advisor Mr. Botta.

“I asked Mr. Botta about what goes on in the Student Senate – like what the president and the vice president do – and he said that he wanted me to be a representative if I wanted to do it,” Charlotte said. “So I went to their first meeting, and we were already talking about different ideas, like having a Disability & Special Needs Awareness Day.”

Charlotte said that advocacy and student government are both things she thinks will continue to be part of her life. As for academics, Charlotte’s favorite subject is ELA. She said that she’s “always loved writing and writing,” and also enjoys the research and learning that goes into writing essays.

She can’t get enough of fiction authors like Rick Riordan, JK Rowling, and Chris Coffer, and their fantastical works have inspired Charlotte to work on her own stories.

“I want to be an author, so I try to make my own stories as much as I can,” she said. “I write mysteries; mostly fiction. I did a couple of stories that were kind of like the Percy Jackson books, the way that they have to do with mythology.”

Charlotte has also been performing in school musicals since elementary school. She was in Annie and The Little Mermaid, and was part of the cast of Working when she reached middle school. Right now, she is participating in Cabaret, a singing and dancing lead-up to this year’s middle school play. Her ultimate goal is to audition for WVMS Drama Club.

“In Cabaret, you work with the same teachers who are advisors to the Drama Club,” Charlotte said. “So they get to have an idea of your talent for when you audition.”

No matter what Charlotte pursues, all of her peers and teachers know that she’s going to go after it with her characteristic honesty, diligence, and great sense of humor.


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