Proudly Supporting all Military Families with a Special Needs Dependent
Military Spouse Appreciation Day is Friday, May 9, 2014. Military Special Needs Network will be running a variety of blogs, graphics, statuses, and facts all about the crazy, incredible, never boring lifestyle that we live.
Today we are recognizing Teddi Miller, a military spouse, special needs parent, and Special Education Teacher. Teddi has not only advocated successfully for her own child, she is making the special needs community better in her area by advocating in her role as a Special Education Teacher to better accommodate her students’ needs. Thank you, Teddi, for the work you do on behalf of all of “your” kids.
I recently was able to ask Teddi a series of questions about her efforts on her students’ behalf:
Teddi: My son’s special needs are a bit different so they don’t qualify him for an IEP, but they do qualify him for a 504 plan (or will when he’s old enough for school). His medical needs also qualified him for speech and OT services when he was just 10 months old. Being a special needs parent, though, has opened my eyes to the needs that some parents face even if their children don’t qualify for an IEP plan. It has also helped me to remind parents to advocate for their child and to help them do so. Whether it be reminding them that they can request an IEP review any time or just that they can and should be as active as they want or feel they need to be in the school and the classroom.
As for working with my students, it has reminded me that the needs of my students vary drastically. Some students may need extra attention for emotional concerns, while others need extra attention because of behavioral concerns. Still others need extra attention because they need more time to accomplish certain goals. More than anything, being a special needs parent makes me want to advocate for my students as much as I can. I want all of my students to receive the services that they need and deserve to be successful.
MSNN: My understanding is that you successfully wrote and were awarded a grant to purchase iPads for your classroom. Tell us about that!
Teddi: Our school technology department actually had acquired the iPads, but they only received enough for 5 classrooms to have them. To be awarded the iPads I had to write a proposal explaining what apps I would use and how I would utilize them daily (if not multiple times per day) to help the students in my classroom practice skills and learn new skills. I have now had the opportunity to use the iPads in my classroom for a week and have seen my students really enjoy practicing their skills in both language arts and math. I teach kindergarten, so practice is key to helping them to master the skills needed to read, write, and do math.
MSNN: Where do you go from here? What’s next on your agenda for improving the lives of your students?
Teddi: Unfortunately we have orders, so my current students will have to continue on without me. However, next on my agenda is to hopefully get a teaching job at our new duty station and continue to teach. I am also certified to be a school administrator and hope to one day find a position as either a school principal or special education coordinator. I am certified in elementary K-8th grade, middle school math, social studies, reading, and language arts, special education, and school administration.
My goal is to use my experiences teaching in multiple states and schools as well as mutliple subject areas (8th grade language arts in Illinois, Special Education students with emotional and behavioral disorders in Georgia, and now Kindergarten in New Mexico) to help find ways to bridge the gaps for military children moving from one state to another. There are so many differences in standards and available resources from place to place that it is a difficult transition for military and other transient families to have consistent education for their children.
MSNN: Do you have any tips and insight you can share with parents, from an educator’s perspective?
Teddi: From an educator’s perspective my most important tip to parents is to be your child’s biggest advocate. Talk to the teachers and administrators in the school. Go in and volunteer so you can see what is taking place in the classroom and around the school. Never hesitate to express your gratitude as well as your discomfort with a situation in the school. While most parents don’t want to be “that parent” who always has a suggestion or an issue, the reality is that you are the one who knows your child best and if something isn’t working it is your right to fight for something that will work! Don’t let the school or administrators bully you into accepting something you are not okay with. Thank you!
MSNN: Well, thank you, Teddi for all you have done and will continue to do in the field of special education, for your work as a military spouse supporting our community by recognizing the unique challenges our children face with our “on the move” lifestyle, and, last but definitely not least, for your efforts on behalf of your son. You are making the change you want to see.
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