Connections: Linking Talented Educators
Connections: Linking Talented Educators

Strategies for Success in Special Education

August 7, 2020

Andrew Franz special ed with student 1000w2

Working with special education students requires unique skills and consummate dedication. Three Milken Educators talk about the passion that drives their practices.


Andrew Franz (NY '17)

Why does Andrew stay in special education in Buffalo Public Schools? "I could go to another school and teach English or whatever, but I stay in special education because this is where kids need me," he says. "I believe in equity....I'm here to give these kids an opportunity they wouldn't otherwise have." Andrew's special ed students motivate him as a teacher: "What I've learned from my students is perseverance. Some of the kids who have the toughest home lives are here every single day."


Meghan LeFevers (NC '17)

Meghan is passionate about working with students with disabilities—and it all started when Aubrey Bridges, a nonverbal student with autism, landed in her classroom years ago. Now the principal of Tryon Elementary in Gaston County Schools, Meghan talks about the strategies she and her team use to make sure students of all abilities reach their potential. "Everyone has skills and abilities," says Meghan. "We just have to find ways to tap into them."


Jessica Villanueva (CA '16)

Jessica relies on her special education background daily as the pre-induction specialist support provider for Fairfield-Suisun Unified School District. She shares important advice for special education teachers: Prioritize your workload, always be present, and remember to invest in yourself and your practice. Special ed students need a safe, predictable and positive learning environment, says Jessica: "They need to know that their teachers really believe that they are capable of learning."

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