An Oregon special education teacher who suffered a severe brain injury in 2015 after a student attacked her in the classroom is now using her newfound fame to help revolutionize early childhood education.
Emily Cadiz, who was first runner-up in the 1996 Miss America pageant, has created Finnegan the Singing Dragon, an adventure-based preschool curriculum that includes a book, an interactive gaming system, and activities for children ages 2 to 6, KATU reports.
"I didn't anticipate them being so excited about the character-driven curriculum," Cadiz says.
"It's a new concept.
It's not a typical way to write curriculum."
Cadiz, who used her Miss America scholarship money to attend Columbia University, grew up with a passion for music and education and won the Miss Oregon pageant in 1995.
She used her scholarship money to attend the University of Oregon, where she sang with the University Singers and the Opera Ensemble.
At 19, she dazzled the judges in the 1996 Miss America pageant with her rendition in French of an aria from the opera Carmen.
She made it into the top five finalists and stood hand in hand with the other four contestants as the winner was announced.
"When you're the last two standing there at the end (of the Miss America pageant) holding hands,