Who am I?
I am a high school learning support teacher who works and lives in a very rural area in north central PA. As you may be able to tell from the photo below, I got married in July 2013 to a chemistry teacher who came up with a reaction to symbolize our unity ceremony. If you look closely, you may be able to tell that she has both a lab coat and safety glasses. No lab coat for me.
You must be so patient!
Whenever I tell people what I teach, I usually get the above reaction. I guess it’s true but I have never thought much about it. During my career I have taught at every level with the exception of 4th grade, and find that I much prefer the high school level. Prior to my current position as a high school learning support teacher, I taught in an emotional support classroom for 14 years, 10 of those with adjudicated students from a local residential facility.
Me back in my ES days when I thought I looked tough! LOL
Obligatory personal information
It took me a long time to decide what I wanted to do after high school. I worked a variety of jobs from 6 years as a short order cook and kitchen manager to one day working in a lumber yard with many others in between. I started college as a computer science major and while I loved computer programming and technology, I did not love hours upon hours of staring at a computer screen with little human interaction.
I lucked onto teaching by looking for a second job during the summer and landing a job as a teacher’s aide in a program for what was then called EMR students. This was a full day, 8 weeks a summer job and something I found I enjoyed; so much so that I changed my major to general studies following the first summer and then to special education following the second. By the fourth summer I was a certified special education teacher with a classroom of my own.
During this time I also worked full time for three years at a group home at what was termed an ICF MR for adults with medical or behavioral concerns. I worked 3rd shift, usually 12 hours overnight, and went to college during the day while working a second job summers and Christmas break. These experiences helped me immensely as I just wasn’t learning facts on a page but was able to use my work experience to relate to what was being taught in the college classroom.
My special education experience in a nutshell:
- 6 years working the summer program for the local IU, 3 as a teacher’s aide and three as a classroom teacher
- 3 years full time working through a local agency at an ICF MR
- 3 months working as a long term sub in a K-3 ES classroom
- 10 years working in a 5-8 grade ES classroom with ages ranging from 10-16. Many of my students were adjudicated youth from the eastern part of PA. These students were sent to my area as we are so rural it was hard for students to run; hard but not impossible.
- 4 years working in an elementary 2-3 grade es/ls program
- 7 years working at the high school level as a learning support teacher, although I am often called on to deal with behavioral issues and am part of our behavioral support team.
After 21 years in public education, and several more working for local agencies dealing with the same population, I am still just as excited and happy working in my field as I was when a new teacher, politics and outside pressures aside. I find enjoyment and satisfaction working with my students and helping them become as successful as they are capable, helping them to realize their potential and hopefully steering them towards success after high school.