A teacher hoped to connect with students with disabilities. She found a way through music.

It was the big day: the day the real instruments would arrive.

Max Fay, 22, who has Down syndrome and autism, had spent months — along with his special education classmates at Annandale High School in Fairfax County Public Schools — prepping for this moment. The students, all of whom have learning disabilities that earn them Category B or “severely disabled” status, had first learned the basics of rhythm under the tutelage of music teacher Annie Ray.

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