Gabby Leon

Special Education teacher Nicole Sneed helps senior Nicholas Waldrop at a game of bingo. “My favorite thing about my job is the relationship I have with my students. I enjoy having inside jokes with my students as well as knowing their interests. It helps us connect and form a positive relationship,” Sneed said.

Getting to know Special Education teacher Nicole Sneed

What is your job? What do you do?

“I am a special education teacher. I help students learn by evaluating their current ability, creating and implementing appropriate interventions and providing accommodations and modifications to the curriculum.”

Is this your first time doing this?

“I was a special education teacher at Union Middle School in Union, Mo. for the past four years, and previously worked as a special education teacher assistant.”

What got you interested in your job?

“I really like helping students overcome challenges and obstacles, and watching them  progress toward their goals. I break down a difficult task into smaller steps and goals, provide a lot of visuals and model the task for them.”

What is your favorite thing about your job? Could you give an example as well?

“My favorite thing about my job is the relationship I have with my students. I enjoy having inside jokes with my students as well as knowing their interests. It helps us connect and form a positive relationship. I look forward to seeing my students every day.”

Are there any challenges you face? Could you give an example?

“For many teachers, a challenge we face is balancing all of the different responsibilities we have. For instance, teaching involves a lot more paperwork than you think—and not just grading papers. We want nothing more than to spend all our energy on our students, but sometimes there are other responsibilities that demand our attention as well, so it can be challenging to find the balance between it all.”

How do you overcome these challenges?

“I had to come to the realization that there will always be something (or many things) on my to-do list. And that’s okay, because the students come first.”

What are you most excited for this year and why?

“I am most excited about getting to know my students better and seeing them grow as the year goes on.”

Why did you decide to work at West?

“I technically work for Special School District, however, when they told me they wanted to interview me for a position at Parkway West, I was ecstatic because I had heard wonderful things about Parkway. It has definitely lived up to the hype!”

What is your favorite thing about West so far and why?

“My favorite thing about West so far is the culture of the school. There is a sense of positivity and collaboration in this building that you don’t find everywhere. It has helped me feel welcome, and encourages me to do the best for my students.”

What is one fun fact about you that you want people to know?

“I love traveling. I have been to six different countries, and want to visit many more. [I’ve visited] the Bahamas, South Africa, Mexico three times, Canada, Ecuador twice and Romania. South Africa was my favorite because I went on a few safaris. [My favorite memory was when] we got up really early one morning to watch a huge herd of water buffaloes come down to a water hole. It was a beautiful and surreal thing to witness. That was probably the coolest adventure of my life so far!”

How would you like students to see you?

“I would like my students to see me as someone who cares for them. I want them to know my classroom is a safe place and a fun learning environment.”

What are your goals for this year?

“To always be learning, push myself out of my comfort zone and give my students my best.”

If you could teach a subject, what subject would you teach and why?

“I originally went to school to teach middle school social studies. I am particularly interested in ancient history, so if I didn’t teach special education, I would probably be a history teacher. I really appreciate different cultures, so learning about the art, customs, beliefs, architecture and day-to-day life of civilizations that don’t exist anymore fascinate me.”

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