November 20, 2015
Clubs and school organizations often introduce students to new activities and allow students to embrace and grow in their love for the chosen activity. For Kaitlin Ryan, the new Life Skills teacher, a school program called Best Buddies exposed her to a unique experience that ultimately led her to the position she is in today.
“When I was in junior high, I was a part of Best Buddies, a program where you are paired with a student with different disabilities, and that really fascinated me. I started researching about it and in high school I was in Best Buddies again, and then I started babysitting a student with autism,” Ryan said.
After finding her love for the Best Buddies program and students with disabilities in junior high and high school, Ryan went on to study special education at Texas Tech University. Her first year at Tompkins is also her first teaching, but she knows that this is exactly where she was meant to be.
“My favorite part would have to be my students. Even though some are nonverbal and some are verbal, they each have their own personality, and some people would be like ‘how can you tell if they can’t speak?’ but you can just tell,” Ryan said.
Ryan’s love for her students is always evident through the commitment and dedication to her profession that she shows everyday. Even though there may be bad and good days with her students, she can always look forward to starting the next day as a fresh one with whatever happened the day before behind them.
“You might have one bad day, but the next day it is a completely new day and they might not even remember what happened or what sparked the behavior. And then it’s day two and you start off brand new,” Ryan said.
Starting at a young age undoubtedly influenced Ryan to follow her passion for special education, which has brought her to begin a new journey as a devoted teacher. Life Skills teachers impact their students in powerful ways.