Cathy Heller is the special education team facilitator at the high school. She has returned to Brookline after seven years working in other school systems.
Tell me about your first teaching job.
My first teaching job was when I was in college. I went to Northeastern and they had a co-op program, so in my sophomore year first quarter, I worked in New York. I was 18, 19 years old, and I have been teaching ever since.
When did you first want to become a special education teacher and why?
When I was in high school, I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I liked kids, I babysat a lot, I was a camp counselor and I wanted to work with students who struggle with their academics because they need more help.
What is one thing you always remember when you are in a classroom?
To be respectful of everybody’s voice, because I think that sometimes it is hard for teenagers to take a risk, to speak up in class. If everybody’s respectful then everybody feels comfortable.
What was your high school experience like?
I was a wild child and I went to high school in the sixties, so it was a time of change. Things were very loose, in a different way than they are now. So I did terrible things as a teenager and I turned into a wonderful adult.
What were you most excited for when coming back to Brookline?
To meet my old colleagues. I was here for 16 years and then left for seven. I went to Needham High School, and then I was at Pierce for a year. So it has been fun reconnecting with people and doing the work I love to do.
What is your favorite thing about working with students?
Every day is different and every student is different with their interests and their needs. I find that very interesting.