About the Author

 When I was a little girl, I dreampt of becoming a special education teacher. I was sensitive and aware, even back then, of the need for equality    and the rights of others. When I was in school, students with IEPs spent their day mostly in a seperate classroom.  They went through the lunch line as a group seperate from the rest of the students and ate together in their room. I didn’t understand this…what were they thinking? Why did they do this? It didn’t make any sense.  But it was the way it was.

When the opportunity presented itself for me to go back to college to become a teacher, I jumped at the opportunity.  Before investing money, I chose to try out a guest teacher program where I was asked to sub for a group of 5th graders. Instantly, I felt that feeling in the pit of my stomach and KNEW that I had to become a teacher! Soon, I fell in love with teaching secondary level students. I loved teaching all students, but I liked the challenge that secondary students who had disabilities presented.

I found that often students with disabilities struggled with feelings of hopelessness (no matter how hard they studied, they still failed, so why bother studying?). I found that they shared some of my feelings in high school of “hating” a class or a teacher or anxiety related to math class…becuase, afterall, numbers and letters are not meant to be together…in elementary school the alphabet was taught in one area and numbers in the other…how could we have an unknown? an unknown what? etc.  I could relate to these students.

And of course, the greatest challenge – what about after high school?  This is known in the field of special education as Transition. The transition from high school to that world outside of high school..employment, college, life.

And, so began my thus far, ten year, passion for transition and working with students in Career & Technical Schools.

I am one of two special education teachers who support between 80 and 100 students in a 1 year technical school in Central PA.  I work with 10 para-educators, in 20 programs, with students from 5 sending school districts. I write IEPs, implement IEPs, support students in learning their technical/trade skill, help them navigate the road to college or employment, establish connections with adult service agencies, assist them with breaking down barriers to reaching those goals, and the like.  But, most importantly, I help the teachers and students and para-educators strategize to help the students become successful in their most important years of school…to learn their trade, to apply the knowledge, to earn certifications to become prepared for their futures. This means finding creative ways to engage the learners in the learning process.

I also serve as a transition representative on the PA State Leadership Transition Team, the Local Transition Council, the Past President of the PA Association of Career & Technical Education Special Populations, and have presented at state and national conferences on topics related to Successful Transition Programs and Career & Technical Education and Special Education and Agency and School Collaboration for Successful Transition for Students with Disabilities.

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