Hyla Cushner recently retired from a 30 year career teaching and advocating for children with special needs at all levels of K-12 education. She holds a M.ED in Special Education from Kent State University. Her career was quite varied, from teaching in public schools, working with families and community service agencies while advocating for individuals with special needs, as well as teaching special education teachers (Intervention Specialists) through a grant-funded program at the University of Hawaii. She has also taught English as a Second Language to incoming international students at Case Western Reserve University. Currently Hyla consults with the Autism Society of Greater Akron where she is responsible for coordinating support groups for families with children who have Autism and other disabilities as well as organizing peer groups at Kent State University for adults on the Autism Spectrum. She also acts as a liaison between families, schools and other community agencies.
Hyla and her husband Ken have made travel an integral part of their life, having traveled on 6 continents. They have lived in Australia and Hawaii in addition to Ohio which they now call home. A frequent traveler to the African continent, she, and her husband currently volunteer through the Indigenous Education Foundation of Tanzania providing professional development for teachers at the Orkeeswa School in northern Tanzania. Hyla briefly joined the 2010 and 2011 summer voyages and is excited to be working with students for a full semester. Hyla and Ken have two adult daughters and five grandchildren. Their daughters will come to Japan toward the end of this voyage for a family reunion of sorts, as we reconnect with a former Japanese AFS exchange student from more than 25 years ago.