significant special needs. I have been working with youngsters who have developmental disabilities since I had my first job when I was 14 years old. Through out high school I volunteered and then worked in special needs classrooms and summer programs. I continued this in college, as well as pre-practicum and practicum placements in schools from first semester of my freshman year. I always knew I wanted to be in the field of special education and by the time I was 18 knew I wanted to teach student who needed intensive interventions to help them learn.
I attended Simmons College in Boston in a combined Bachelors/Masters Degree Program, finishing my undergraduate degrees in sociology and intensive special needs in 1998. One year later I finished my Masters of Education, also in Intensive Special Needs. Having been the sole undergraduate majoring in Intensive Special Needs at that time I was privileged to take Masters level courses from Freshman year on during my undergraduate time and then to design most of my Masters course work on my own (having completed all the courses offered). I worked with some fantastic mentors at Simmons College, among them Alan Blume and Susan Ainsleigh. Susan was my guide and taught me not just about teaching but about who I wanted to be as a teacher.
After college I taught various age groups from elementary to transition (18-22 year olds) in various settings (private/hospital, public schools, public educational agencies) all in New England. My professional interests are diverse and include the impact of presumed competence, integrating assistive technology in the classroom, alternative and augmentative communication and positive behavior supports as a framework for implementing application of behavior analysis. I tend to think outside the box and I loved the creative side of teaching, such as creating curriculum units or finding ways to make breakthroughs with students who are harder to reach. Currently I am practicing full time as an assistive technology specialist and have a small private practice of communication tutoring for children and teens with multiple disabilities.
When I came to the inevitable bumps in the road that teachers face I go back to my "This I believe..." statement. (This I Believe is a series done on Morning Edition on National Public Radio.) It always helps me find my footing again, sometimes it takes a little longer than other times, but I always get there.
This I believe...
I believe my students can.
Can beat the odds.
Can surpass plateaus.
Can reach for the stars.
And grab them.
I believe my students deserve:
Deserve a chance.
Deserve the presumption of competence.
Deserve the benefit of the doubt.
Deserve high expectations.
Deserve to spend time enjoying friendships.
Deserve to make mistakes.
Deserve to tease and be teased.
Deserve to be in their community.
Deserve a bad day. And lots and lots of good ones.
Deserve a life that is more that yes, no and constant assessment.
Deserve a highly qualified teacher.
Deserve a say.
Deserve to be heard.
I believe a difference can be made.
Through research and scholarship.
Through constant rededication to quality teaching.
Through entering that classroom every day and teaching like lives depend on it.
Because they do.