What are your job responsibilities?

“I am an elementary special education coordinator in charge of elementary special educators within the local school district.”

What are your past work experiences?

“I have been in the education system for 29 years. I was a Special education teacher for 20 years and has been a SPED leader for the last 9 years.”

What is your philosophy regarding special education?

“My philosophy has always been that all children learn and grow best in their most natural environments.” As a special education teacher, and now a leader in his own elementary school, the interviewee stated that he believes “all children learn and grow best in their most appropriate setting and that is the environment with the least restrictions.” His philosophy stems from the belief that students with special needs must be given experiences with regular education children, as these experiences benefit all children in inclusion classrooms. The interviewee has implemented this belief by striving to make sure the special education students in his care were exposed to “new learning and new experiences” in inclusion settings.

How have you implemented this philosophy?

“As a SPED educator and now a SPED leader, I have always pushed to make sure my students with special needs were in environments that exposed them to new learning and new experiences and that the teachers that are responsible for them, do the same. With some of the more severely disabled students, extra staff and classroom resources may not be enough and them and they may need to be placed into a resource room for certain portions of the school day in order to afford the special education staff the opportunity to work with the students more directly.”

What major changes have you seen throughout your career in special education?

When asked about the changes the interviewee has seen throughout his career in Special Education, he explained that “in the past, special needs classrooms were not included in regular education schools.” In the beginning of his career, these classrooms were secluded from everyone. “There was not a lot of education going on. Then, special education classrooms were opened in regular schools, but these students weren’t interacting well with others. Finally, these students were integrated into regular education classrooms, otherwise termed inclusive classrooms which seemed to make a significant difference in the growth of students with exceptionalities and their typically developing peers.” He has seen incredible strides made on behalf of these students, from seclusion to complete inclusion.