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After student teaching and graduating with a degree in English many years ago, I was excited to begin my life as a high school English teacher and engage students in literature and help them hone their writing skills. But…life had other plans for me. I found myself beginning my teaching career in a therapeutic day school for students who benefit from more support than a public school can generally provide. I fell in love with the special education environment, the complex students, and the educational process with a heavy emphasis on social emotional support. I quickly earned my special education endorsement and embraced my position as a full time special educator and therapeutic crisis interventionist. 

I am nearing the end of my fifth year as a teacher at Hinckley-Big Rock High School. Four of those years were spent as a full-time special education teacher, and I have been fortunate to lead professional development for our staff in the areas of social emotional and behavioral support. 

That all changed this year, beginning with a call from administration in late summer letting me know that I would be filling a vacant general education English department position for the 2022-2023 school year. 

My immediate reaction: No way!! I like my position, I love my small circle of students, absolutely no way I’m doing this. But, I occasionally have a filter, so, of course I agreed–it’s kind of nice feeling needed! My initial plan was to fill the position for a semester, maybe a year, and immediately bounce back to my comfortable and familiar world of special education…but now, with the end of the year approaching, I am in full-swing of preparing to continue being a full-time English teacher for HBR next year as well, and hopefully for many years to come. 

I am in a unique position this year–in addition to teaching English 2, I also provide support in English 1, 3, and 4, so I am 100% immersed in the English experience our students receive during their time at HBR. I often find myself reading four books at once (some multiple times per day), and I have read more paragraphs and essays than I can possibly count - and I have loved (almost) every second of it!

I have learned so much this year (and hopefully my students have, too!). I have been able to interact with so many more students than I have in previous years, build solid relationships with parents and students, and develop a curriculum that exposes students to literature from a variety of cultures. On a daily basis, I pull from my learning behavior specialist background and tap into therapeutic supports and relationship-building techniques for the benefit of all students, special education or not. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have worked with such a wide range of students throughout my career thus far, and I look forward to continuing to learn and grow with every student I encounter. 

I am proud to be a Royal, and I plan to continue to inspire a love of reading and writing for years to come…with a little bit of tough love and sarcasm sprinkled in!