In my nine years working with students with emotional disabilities, I have drawn much inspiration from witnessing the efforts of caring, effective educators and the students whose lives were enriched as a result. As a teacher, this drove my pursuit of the knowledge, skills, and approaches likely to yield the greatest possible outcomes for my students. During my tenure at Hopevale U.F.S.D. in Hamburg, NY and at the League School in Brooklyn, NY - both schools for students with severe emotional and behavioral needs - I built a foundation of knowledge and skills that have helped me grow professionally, and affirmed working in the field of special education is my life's mission and work. While I relished the opportunity as a classroom teacher to make a difference in my own students' lives, I felt there was much more I could offer the field of special education as a higher education faculty member. The insights I have gained over my teaching career are rooted in my experiences working with students whose disabilities often presented them with great challenges. The arduous task of helping my students overcome these obstacles has provided me with a lifetime of motivation, and has shaped my future academic and professional goals.
My Master's thesis, which explored how a special education student processed information in online environments, suggests while students have ever-increasing access to an abundance of technology, their behavior suggests a continued need for explicit instruction in how, when, and why to use technology to their advantage. Among others, I hope to continue this line of inquiry in my doctoral studies. Gaining a better understanding of the ways in which technology can and should be harnessed by students will hopefully make learning a more achievable proposition for some of our neediest students.
My rewarding experience as a participant in numerous technology-based professional development opportunities has not only helped me grow professionally, but also brought into focus the need for greater teacher training in the area of educational technology.
Because there are limitless possibilities for improving the field of special education, I remain optimistic about the positive role technology might play in improving our efforts to prepare the next generation of educators. I also remain confident success is a reality for each and every student, whether it is due to the raw ability of emerging technologies, the increasing aptitude of the members of our profession, or other factors. Insofar as I am able to contribute to the fund of knowledge that informs and broadens the field of special education, I believe I will be meeting my aspiration to have the greatest impact on as many students as possible.