In December 2012, Kathleen Drake was named Teacher of the Year at Lincoln Elementary School in Edison, NJ. Drake, who is completing her master’s degree in Special Education with a concentration in Autism Spectrum Disorders, says that being named Teacher of the Year has been a goal for her since her first year of teaching. Through her online courses in the School of Education, she was able to accomplish that goal.
“My classes allowed me to improve in all areas of my teaching,” Drake, who is now a mentor for a first-year teacher at her school, says.
Drake says that working with students with ASD [autism spectrum disorders] has been a passion of hers, and was the main reason why she chose the ASD concentration. In her concentration courses, she specifically learned how students with special needs grow academically, socially, and behaviorally, which ended up being of great benefit to her students.
“Just this past school year, I was able to implement many strategies to help one of my students with autism,” Drake says. “He was initially placed in a classroom with no support. The student struggled with classroom routine and inappropriate behaviors. After some time, the team decided to place him into my inclusion classroom. Through strategies I learned at Drexel, my student was able to raise his hand, focus on the task and complete it on his own. He also learned how to participate, both socially and academically, in an appropriate way. He made great strides, which I attribute to the many great classes that I have taken at Drexel.”
When she completes her degree, Drake plans to continue teaching students with disabilities in an inclusion setting, while also furthering her education and helping other educators find success in their classrooms.