By Kyle Hietala
DCPS Office: Special Education Inclusion Team, Division of Specialized Instruction
Education: EdD Student at University of Virginia
Program of Study/Major: Curriculum and Instruction, Equity focus
Hometown: Boston, Massachusetts
Drawing on her years of experience working in special education, Rose is building a more user-friendly Canvas website with special education resources for teachers. She is appreciative of the impact her project could make on the District as a whole: increasing access to special education resources will help ensure that schools are meeting compliance standards in the provision of services–an outcome good for both the students served and the District, in general.
Now a doctoral student at the University of Virginia, Rose gained most of her expertise in the classroom. As a special education teacher, she focused on implementing technology into her classes. “The goal is for students to gain independence,” she said. “Equipping students with useful technology helps them toward that goal,” she added.
Rose’s perspective about special education evolved over her teaching career. “I had been somebody who thought that busing kids to special, isolated programs was best,” she reflected. “But then I noticed that I could get kids to be more successful with me in a general classroom setting,” she observed.
Although inclusive classrooms can subject special education students to social stigmatization, and at worst humiliation, they are more likely to foster productive interaction and improved social development. “When one of my students moved to an integrated program,” she noted, “he got invited to a birthday party for the first time in his life.” Rose thinks that effective special education services have to strike a balance between protecting the pride of the students they serve, keeping everyone comfortable, and providing the highest quality education possible.
Even though special education is “nastier and more politicized” than anything else in education, according to Rose, she’s committed to helping teachers more easily access resources and information about how they can best serve their students with special needs. Of her experience this summer, Rose described it as “phenomenal,” and she looks forward to her Canvas webpage becoming available to DCPS teachers.