“I will miss working with the children and staff. It is exciting to see students learn, experience their enthusiasm for life, and the planning of events that delight their learning.”

For the last 24 years, Joann Byrd has been working at Colo-NESCO as a special education teacher, and briefly as a first-grade teacher for two years.

“I entered teaching and a career in special education because of the feeling of unfairness that a relative with a mental disability never had the opportunity to attend school,” stated Joann.

During Joann’s teaching career, her goals were to help each student gain academic skills to be successful, and to develop their confidence that they are talented people of worth.

A highlight in Joann’s career is when she received the National Board Certification in the area of special education. “Becoming national board-certified is a very rigorous process,” said Joann. “Nationally, just under three percent of teachers have this certification. Getting this certification has taught me how to reflect on my instruction to make my student’s learning more successful and how teaching is a continuous process of observation, reflection, and change,” she added.

Another highlight in Joann’s career was teaching first-grade. “I enjoyed seeing how all the skills taught can be integrated to develop purposeful learning, and the tremendous growth students make both academically and socially in just one year,” stated Joann.

In working with kids, each day something is bound to be memorable. Joann’s most memorable moment was when one of her students brought a bent spoon that had been chewed on in a garbage disposal. “He said he didn’t have much, but he wanted to let her know he cared and wanted to share something,” said Joann.”The object wasn’t what was important, but rather the gesture of kindness. It continues to remind me that what is in the heart is one of the most important things you can share.”

If a new and upcoming teacher asked Joann for her advice, her answer would be, “Actively listen to both veteran teachers and students, since both can provide a wealth of information that will inform your teaching. Take the time to reflect to determine if your teaching is impacting student learning and your goals for them. Be open to new ideas, think about what is best for your students, look for the positive in each student, and sprinkle with a dose of laughter and smiles.”

“Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the World.” — Nelson Mandela