iEducate Delaware is an initiative of the Rodel Foundation of Delaware recognizing the unsung heroes of public education statewide. These individuals represent a diverse cross section of parents, educators, community leaders, and other inspiring individuals from up and down the state, who are dedicating their time, commitment, and leadership to Delaware’s public schools. Each honoree received a $2,000 grant to support her work and was honored at the recent Vision 2015 Fall Conference, hosted at the University of Delaware. To learn more, visit www.ieducatedelaware.org.
Town Square Delaware will feature the winning entries from the five honorees selected. The third honoree is Sarah Preston, who is featured in this video by Content Delaware. Her entry appears below:
My approach to my work is inspired by the amazing teachers and specialists I work with as a part of the Brandywine Specialized Autism Program. It’s also inspired by my passion to help my students push one step further every day, the connections I make with students and their families, and the joy that comes from watching a child learn skills that they will use in their daily lives.
The students I work with are extremely unique. The complexities of autism keep me learning everything I can to help them to become the best they can be. Working with students with autism, I need to be ready to change how and what I teach at any given moment. Every moment in my classroom – from the moment the bus arrives to the moment it leaves – is a teachable moment. I teach the skills we take for granted every day, but would be lost without.
There is no such thing as a small accomplishment! Every success – no matter how small – deserves a celebration. I have watched my students on the continuum of the autism spectrum flourish under my guidance. My proudest moments as a champion of education are witnessing the firsts for many of my students: a first wave “hello,” first words for a once non-verbal student, a first independent interaction with a peer.
Educators are the most dedicated and caring professionals I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Their work does not stop when the bell rings! We are the unsung heroes who work long and hard to make changes in the children of our future.
Pushing the envelope means being an advocate for your students no matter how challenging it may be. It means teaching to the child, not the disability. My students are children, first and foremost.
Sarah Preston is an Autism Support Teacher at the Bush Early Education Center in the Brandywine School District.