The Canton Charge, powered by the Cleveland Cavaliers, are excited to announce March’s winner of the Most Valuable Teacher of the Month presented by WGU Ohio is Haley Duerr from Valley View Elementary School.
Mrs. Duerr is a MD Intervention Specialist at Valley View Elementary School. She works with their free food organization that sends home food for families over the weekend and is a member of the education board to speak on behalf of students with disabilities. Mrs. Duerr creates an environment that is happy, strong, and positive to where all students can succeed.
Following the announcement, Mrs. Duerr took a moment to reflect on what he enjoys about teaching and how the pandemic has just continued to help him grow.
- How have you been adapting to teaching in a new ways during these times and continuing to connect with the students
I teach in a kindergarten through fourth grade multiple handicap classroom and I am very fortunate to teach in such an amazing school district that always puts an emphasis on students with disabilities. My students benefit from individualized, hands on experiences, so teaching online due to covid-19 brought its challenges. I spent a tremendous amount of time differentiating and finding creative ways to keep the students engaged. I would take activity packets and individual sensory bins to each student’s house so they had the resources to complete at home. I also made a classroom social media page for the families to engage with while being at home. On the social media account, I shared story read alouds with puppets, fun learning activities, cooking videos that corresponded with story read alouds, crafts and daily questions for the students to answer. As we began the 2020-2021 school year, the administration in my district made appropriate accommodations for all students to have the option to learn online or in person. My class truly benefited from the in-person learning options and have thrived being in the classroom learning through hands-on experiences.
- What has been the most meaningful moment in your teaching career?
It is hard to narrow it down to one specific moment because I get to experience these joyful and meaningful moments very frequently! I always find so much joy when I see positive and effective inclusive environments for my students. When working in an intensive special education classroom, my students can often be viewed as different but when I see students and teachers including them in classroom activities it makes my heart burst with joy! Inclusive environments provide a better education for all students’ and develop social relationships and interactions! I love seeing friendships form and my students’ confidence strengthen when they feel valued and included!
- What is something you look forward to doing with your students every year?
There are quite a few things I look forward to throughout the year such as; holiday parties, field trips, holiday stations, cooking activities, hatching chicks, and themed unit celebrations however, I think my favorite is the Special Olympics. Every year in May we get to participate in a county wide Special Olympics. The students get to participate in multiple different events and compete with students from other schools. I love to see their excitement, passion, and drive when they get to participate and compete in the events and then receive awards at the end! Individuals with developmental disabilities are often excluded from many every day activities, but this event integrates students with disabilities and non-disabled participants a chance to succeed. The Special Olympics has a positive and lasting effect on the students participating, the families and all the people cheering for them!
- What is a way that has stood out in which you were supported or learned from your fellow teachers and how important is that support system especially in these times?
I have always believed in the importance of relationships. I think building meaningful relationships can help you succeed in all aspects of your life. I am fortunate to work in a building where there are so many amazing and supportive teachers. When working in special education you need to work with the general education teachers very frequently so it is important to build relationships with them and maintain proactive communication. In our elementary school, there are two other multiple handicap teachers, Mallory Adams and Emily Reagan.They are both creative, passionate and loving teachers who have helped me so much along the way. Collaborating with them encourages me to think outside the box, try new things, and boosts my morale. I am very fortunate to have them as my mentors and friends.