Tonya Dubay is the perfect example of someone who thinks outside the box.

She is a special education teacher at Marshall Greene Middle School in Birch Run. 

But her vision toward helping her students definitely extends outside the classroom.

Tonya is planning a softball game that will involve her students and the LINKS peer-to-peer group against the varsity girls softball team from Birch Run High School. 

She has inside help in the planning. The varsity softball team is coached by Julie Hoffman, a sixth grade special education teacher.

"The students are excited. They’re eagerly looking forward to it," said Tonya. "It’ll be great fun.”

Tonya praises the high school peer-to-peer group and the varsity softball team for extending their friendship to her students.

"They’re teaching the value of kindness," she said.

The long-anticipated game is tentatively set for May 18 at the high school field – and Tonya is making sure ice cream and hot dogs are a big part of the celebration.

Of course, Tonya has more out-of-the-box ideas, too. 

She recently spoke at the Birch Run Rotary Club to present her vision for opening a nonprofit coffee shop near the school that would benefit students with disabilities, their families, and the entire community.

“Operating a coffee shop would allow students to earn community service hours as well as gain real-world work experience,” she said. "This vision is in the early stage, but given the positive response by people willing to serve on the development board, we’re building good momentum!”