Meeting the Individual Needs of her Students
Karen S. Redd is a special education teacher at Bakersville Elementary School in Manchester, New Hampshire; she is a Plymouth State University, College of Graduate Studies General Special Education graduate, and she’s also a former College of Graduate Studies staff member. Redd is motivated to help students, regardless of their age or grade level. Helping students is something she did at the College of Graduate Studies, and now she’s doing it with third- through fifth-graders at Bakersville Elementary.
Redd decided to pursue her dream of teaching special education while she was a staff member at the College of Graduate Studies. She was inspired to fulfill that dream by former Vice President of the College Dennise Maslakowski, who quickly and tragically passed away in 2008. Redd’s first introduction to Maslakowski was as an undergraduate student. “Dennise was always such a professional in the classroom. She always looked at special education students as individuals,” says Redd. Redd also plans her lessons with the individual needs of each student in mind. “It’s what I think of most when planning; that all students need an individual touch.”
Dr. Marcel LeBrun was influential in Redd’s experience with the program in the College of Graduate Studies. “Marcel is very knowledgeable about working with emotionally challenged students,” and his instruction was instrumental to Redd.
Professor Maura Dougherty was another influential instructor. “Professor Dougherty is very enthusiastic with her teaching and with discussions about using Universal Design for learning,” Redd said. “I used this method in thinking about Dennise’s examples of students as individuals, and knowing their individual learning styles.” Redd recommends the program to others interested in special education certification because of the well-rounded curriculum, the current strategies and interventions taught, and small class size.
In 2009, Redd was the first recipient of the Dennise Maslakowski Scholarship Award. “I was working in the College and was aware of the scholarship, but I wasn’t going to apply, because I worked there. Then I thought maybe I should because Dennise was such an influence on me.” Redd thinks of Maslakowski often. “Everybody who knew her knew about her shoes; her high heels. Most schools don’t have carpet, but every time someone has heels on, I think of Dennise when I hear heels in the hallway.” Redd decided at the last minute to apply, and was the fortunate recipient of the award. She is grateful for receiving it.
Redd says her graduate coursework prepared her quite well for her field. “I was like a deer in headlights when I first started. There was lots of legal paperwork, as well as learning to working with each individual student, and planning all the lessons. I always think of the different instructors I had at Plymouth State and the different strategies they taught. I have lots of resources.”
Redd loves what she does. “Working with the diversity of kids at Bakersville is challenging and interesting. It’s a good feeling to know you’ve helped a student with a learning disability. It’s exciting and rewarding.” This is the right place for her. “I look forward to coming to work every day.”
Interested in learning more about the Dennise Maslakowski Scholarship? Visit: plymouth.edu/development/scholarships/grad.html. The application form is at: plymouth.edu/graduate/files/2010/12/maslakowski-scholarship.pdf. Applications are due April 1.