Challenges, Grief & Courage

Everyone knows the right answearDAVID AND LYNDA ZUSSMAN have been living in Newport Coast for almost 20 years – enjoying what two successful careers can offer.  They began their lives in Newport Beach, later moving to Los Angeles. However, given the opportunity to relocate to Newport Beach, they took it!  Lynda joined the Newport-Mesa Unified School District as a Special Education Resource Specialist and David continued in real estate creating a series of successful funds.

“I became involved in Special Education because I know struggling students can succeed academically if their type of learning styles are addressed with proper teaching methods,” said Lynda . “It’s not a one size fits all when it comes to learning. Some students struggle more, especially when they do indeed have a learning disability.” The challenges these students face are often overwhelming, but they can overcome them.

The drop-out rate of high school students are at an all-time high and so special Education is mandatory for our struggling students to succeed. People need to understand that early intervention is the key to learning.

“There is no greater joy than to see a student’s self-esteem soar because they are in the right academic settings with caring and competent educators,” said Lynda.  As an Educational Consultant and Resource Specialist with the Newport-Mesa Unified School District for ten years, I have seen this time and time again.” Her motto is very simple: “There are no disabled students only disabled teaching methods.”

But there was no guide for Lynda and David and their family, when they learned of the tragic death of their daughter 26-year-old Lauren. “On memorial Day in 2008, I received a phone call that would change my life,” said Lynda. “While jogging with her fiancé in New York’s Central Park, Lauren Nicole Zussman went into cardiac arrest.”

While Lynda had been working with Special Needs children her adult life, she also had to witness the struggles her daughter Lauren had. In 2011, Lynda published, “Throw Me a Rope – A Memoir on Loving Lauren,” written to honor her late daughter. The book is an exploration of Lauren’s life from childhood to her untimely death. One reads about her as a sober alcoholic, almost dying from alcohol poisoning at age 18 and follows her transformation from a troubled young adult, to a courageous woman celebrating the human spirit of living a healthy, holistic, lifestyle.

“Lauren had tremendous compassion and integrity,” said Lynda.  “She was an example that with courage and strength a human being can overcome debilitating obstacles that so often stand in our way.”

How fitting it is that Lynda works with children who need that same kind of strength and courage? “We all wear a
silver chain bracelet with
‘courage’ engraved on one side and “Lauren 08” on the other side. Lauren’s courage inspires us,” said Lynda.

 

Rabbi Florence L. Dann, Beit Sefer Director of Temple Beth Israel of Pomona has been a contributing writer to Jlife since 2004.

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