Special education teacher aims to make the school experience positive

Graphic+by+Jamie+Martinez

Graphic by Jamie Martinez

Jamie Martinez, Staff Writer

Jake Barrett

What are your main responsibilities?

Within the classroom, I’m responsible for providing support and services for students who have been diagnosed with a disability that adversely impacts their ability to access the curriculum of the class.  I also work with the content and teacher of the class to preview the upcoming curriculum to problem solve potential trouble spots before they arise in class. Outside the classroom, I work as a liaison for some of the students I teach.  I communicate with their parents and other support givers to ensure that all of the student’s needs are being addressed.

How did you get into teaching special education?

A few different factors influenced my career choice.  My father, who was also a special education teacher, passed away suddenly when I was young of a heart attack while at work one day.  Secondly, I hated my 3rd grade teacher.  Her approach to issues I had with my hand writing and the pain it caused me was to assign me extra writing homework every night and keep me in from recess if I didn’t write enough. Lastly, my own experience getting diagnosed with a learning disability when I was 12 years old.  I was unwilling to accept the help being offered because I was so self conscious and concerned with how it would look to my friends and classmates.  It ultimately cost me a few extra years of life to get through college because of a lack of essential skills. I don’t want other students to have those same negative experiences, so I work to give them a positive self-concept and a positive association with the supports they have available to them.

How has your teaching affected you?

I appreciate that I have a role in shaping the minds and experiences of students who, as adults, will be my peers and neighbors.  If I want to surround myself with better citizens in the future then I have to, in any way I can, help them now.