Career Story: Director Of A Special Education Program At A Suburban High School

Director Of A Special Education Program At A Suburban High School

Job Title: Director Of A Special Education Program At A Suburban High School

Type of Company: A suburban high school.

Education: BA, Business Economics and Organization Behavior and Management, Brown University •• M.Ed., Special Education 5-12, Boston College

Previous Experience: I started out as a teaching assistant at a nearby high school while I was getting my master's degree. Once I graduated, I was hired as a Special Education teacher. I team-taught classes in history and also provided academic support to students with special needs. Next, I taught math in a therapeutic academic program for students struggling with emotional and behavioral challenges.

Job Tasks: I am the director of an academic support program at a Boston-area high school. My job is to organize the support of 300 students with various disabilities in the mainstream classroom.

There are 25 support staff in my program. Fifteen of them are teachers and ten are teaching assistants. Each teacher has a case load of about 25 kids and is responsible for meeting with each student during the day and communicating with parents and the student's teachers. The teaching assistants go to the students' classes and support them in their classes.

I spend a lot of my time during the day attending meetings. I have meetings for new students, and meetings for students who are having ongoing difficulty in school. I meet regularly with my staff. I meet with teachers as needed and with teaching assistants once a week. I also do a lot of paperwork. I write Individualized Education Plans for students, and coordinate all the case loads and schedules of the students. I coordinate the MCAS testing for all the students in my program. I make sure students receive accommodations when necessary during the testing and arrange for staff to monitor the students during the testing. I also spend time during the day with students who happen to be having a rough day. Often I need to track down students who are skipping classes, who are rumored to be using drugs or alcohol in school, or meet with students who have been thrown out of class.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is that I feel like I am making a difference in the lives of my students. If my program did not exist for these students and they weren't receiving the types of supports that they receive in my program, they most likely would fall through the cracks and end up not doing as good a job in school as they are.

One of the worst parts of my job is that I do not get to spend as much time working directly with the students as I would like. I spend a lot of time in meetings, especially at the end of the school year when I am doing transition meetings for incoming ninth graders.

Job Tips:
1. Truly love what you end up doing. There is no money in teaching and the only reward you get from the job is the satisfaction that you are helping others.

2. Realize that because of so many budget cuts in education, case loads for special education are very high and there is not enough support for SPED teachers.

Additional Thoughts: The ability to communicate and work well with others is crucial for my job. I am working with so many teaching staff, families, and administrative staff.

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