By Jana Hildebrand, Miriam Academy Special Education Teacher
While I always wanted to be a teacher, my path to become one was definitely not a straight line. During my senior year of high school (Collinsville, IL – for you St. Louis-raised folks who are likely wondering), I joined the Air Force. After attending Basic Military Training, I was stationed at Scott Air Force Base and worked part-time in restaurants as a server/bartender/manager. Eventually, I joined the wonderful world of education by working as an administrative assistant at Affton High School.
It was my experience with the students, staff, and administrators there that helped me unearth my love of Special Education. I soon became a paraprofessional with Special School District, working at Rogers Middle School in Affton, and began taking graduate classes to get certified to become a Special Educator.
Before I began my time at Miriam Academy, I do not think I fully grasped the importance of Special Education and the positive impact that it can have on a person’s life. All students wish to be understood, appreciated, and taught at their level. As a teacher in an environment that fosters individual connections and compassion, I have learned so, so much about the myriad ways that educators can and do affect young people’s thoughts and internalized feelings about themselves and their unique abilities.
Having the opportunity to completely alter a student’s negative mindset about school/learning is perhaps the most rewarding thing I have ever experienced.