Woodland Elementary Special Education Teacher Kelly Baird was in grade school when they used to let the sixth, seventh and eighth graders help with kindergartners and first graders during recess.
“I really enjoyed that and decided I wanted to be a teacher.”
At the same time, PL94-142 had passed and special education was coming into being.
“I thought that sounded even better. The more I learned, the more I thought special education was for me.”
When Baird began at District #7 30 years ago, her mentor teacher was a communications disorder teacher.
“She was amazing! I learned so much about how language affects everything we do. Then I got to work with two girls who were on the Autism spectrum (although not yet diagnosed), and I was fascinated by how their minds work.”
Baird had opportunities to attend workshops and learn even more about Autism.
“I knew these were my people! I’ve been in love with that population ever since.”
Baird has been at Woodland since it became Woodland in 1997 except for a two-year stint at Cassens. Her communications disorder classroom is designed to service students with communication disorders in grades three through five who need more support than other cross-categorial special education classrooms can offer.
“I love their personalities! I love their quirky sense of humor. I love their literal thinking. I love the problem solving that goes with working with this population. It’s almost like doing a puzzle – you move the pieces until it clicks.”
Her position comes with many challenges, but it’s also extremely rewarding.
“I feel like the kids have taught me as much as I have taught them. They show me a different way of seeing things. They show how to accept my own self with all my faults. They show me how to see love in a different way.”