Rachel Kniager (Indianapolis ’15) waits to welcome students
Rachel Kniager (Indianapolis ’15) waits to welcome students

Learning From My Students

In honor of Special Education Awareness Month, one corps member reflects on the impact that her students have on her every day.


Monday, October 24, 2016

My days get off to a great start because each day when I come to work I am greeted with hugs, high-fives, and excitement. Even better is when I see my students light up, gain confidence, and believe in themselves after conquering a skill that had been challenging. For example, one of my students began the school year struggling to add and subtract numbers 0-20. Within one week of working together, he grew his confidence in his abilities and showed excitement in his work. After a month of consistently working together, he is now able to multiply numbers 0-15 without a calculator. This student loves to help his classmates and show off his accomplishments to classroom visitors.

I am a special education teacher, which is  a challenging yet incredibly rewarding profession. Children who are diverse learners experiencing academic challenges can unfortunately be pushed along, forgotten about, or not given the attention they need to succeed. For this reason, I appreciate being a  special education teacher and having the time and ability to form strong individual bonds with my students to help them reach their highest potential. I have the privilege of earning my students’ trust and respect, and from there, achieving great things together.

Due to the challenges that many students in low-income schools face, special education is often a critical classroom position. We are needed not just to build missing and lagging academic skills, but to help students gain confidence, learn perseverance, and ultimately prepare students for their next step.

The positive spirit, continuous effort, and supportive personalities of my students allow me to experience far greater joys than I ever could have imagined. My students teach me more about life, love, hard work, and happiness than I could fathom to teach them. From their examples, I am all the more grateful to be their teacher, a corps member, and a lifelong advocate for our students.