As we enter our 100th year of leading special education, the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) is recognizing exceptional educators from around the world who have shown a passion, dedication, and commitment to making a difference in the lives of the students who they teach. Hear from teachers about their personal experiences working in the field, and get inspired to make your own impact this year.
My interest in working with individuals with disabilities started when I was young. I began volunteering and then working, while I was in high school and college, with adults with disabilities teaching life skills in group homes, sheltered workshops, Summer Camp and Respite Care.
I double majored in Elementary Education and Special Education for students with Mild Mental Disabilities. I started Teaching in the self-contained classroom with the Special School District of St. Louis County. I continued with Graduate work to include certification for Learning Disabilities, Behavior Disorders, Functional Mental Disabilities, and Multiple Disabilities. I have my Masters in Special Education +15. We moved to Boone County, Kentucky and I have continued to teach in a self-contained classroom for students with multiple disabilities. I have been working in a self-contained classroom setting for 31 years.
The last 4 years, my self-contained teaching partner and I have built a successful curriculum based program with Primary and Intermediate groupings. We have changed up the K-5 multiple disability approach from an isolated self-contained teacher to a successful team approach. We have had full support from our administration moving us into the same school building so we could work together and focus on the age appropriate curriculum and skill levels for Primary and Intermediate. It has allowed us the opportunity to collaborate and team teach to meet the wide range of needs.
The relationships I have built with my students and their families are priceless to me. I have worked with hundreds of students over my 30 plus years, every one of them holds a special place in my heart. The longevity of my career in a self-contained setting is an accomplishment within itself. Many of my students have language barriers and communication can be a struggle. Strong communication with their families and building trusting relationships helps bridge the gaps. We have a private Facebook page for our class to help students and families communicate about their school day. Our group has built a community that comes together for the development of the individual. Families share with the group what they are doing outside of school on vacations or skills they are generalizing at home. When I was studying to be a special education teacher, I used to say I would feel successful if I made a connection and helped at least one child be their best self. When I reflect over the years, I feel I have met that goal many times over and enjoy the updates from former students and families. I have accomplished what I set out to do, in the place I was called to be, to help others live their best life with joy and purpose.
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