What’s in a name? Turns out, something special. I’d like to introduce you to one of our teachers, Ingeborg Love. “Inge” for short, though there’s no shortage of Love in her teaching. She speaks with immense pride and admiration for the students she works with. Inge spent her first ten years at MSB as a paraeducator. She was initially hesitant to become a teacher, but through supportive colleagues and a passion for working with students, she knew she was destined for this role. Now in her third year of teaching, she’s thrilled to be able to impact the lives of more and more students every year.
Inge shares a story about a student she worked with who was afraid to walk and used a stroller. At first, she tried to get him out of the stroller and walk down the hallway to no avail. Each time they walked down the hallway, the student would slide to the ground tirelessly. It wasn’t until one day another student asked her the question, “How would you feel about [a specific] comment if you couldn’t see their body language?” that it clicked. She realized she had been missing a huge piece of the puzzle in working with the student in the stroller. She asked herself, “How would you feel if you were afraid to walk without a stroller and someone took you out of it and expected you to walk?” After re-evaluating her methods, she went back and tried a more supportive approach; she worked in incremental steps to get her student to walk while holding both of their hands, then moving to one hand, until one day, the stroller disappeared and the student walked around campus tall and proud.
Inge’s teaching philosophy revolves around empathy and understanding. She meets her students where they are and tailoring their learning experiences to their unique needs. By putting herself in their shoes and imagining how she would feel in their situations, Inge creates a supportive and inclusive environment. She incorporates hands-on activities and allows her students to explore, touch, and feel, helping them comprehend concepts in a tangible and meaningful way.
Inge shared another story of how excited she is to prepare her classroom each year. She gathers students’ items from their last classrooms, picks out colorful and tactile decorations and materials, and configures the room to make it a fun and engaging space for all. It is imperative for our students to have a classroom that is easily accessible in a variety of ways; the classroom must be arranged so wheelchairs and other mobility devices can move with ease, handouts must be offered in large print, braille and electronic versions, and other factors such as lighting must be considered to make the room comfortable and accessible for all.
Like all teachers, Inge recognizes the hard work that goes into creating a productive learning environment. She also acknowledges the cost. The reality is that our students need more than pencils and notebooks, they are in need of specialized equipment like magnifiers, braille displays, screen readers, and other assistive technologies (AT). In addition to electronic AT used in the classroom, there are dozens of other devices tailor-made for students to use for everyday skills, like cooking, making a bed, or even opening a locker. These devices play a vital role in maintaining and enhancing our students’ functioning and independence, ultimately contributing to their overall well-being.
When a student is put in an optimal learning environment, it leads to higher achievement. However, effective education is only possible with the right leaders at the forefront. Fantastic teachers like Inge Love make it possible for our students to thrive. The time it takes to set up a classroom is just one small piece of her unwavering dedication, love for her students, and commitment to their growth. It goes to show that a perfect classroom is nothing without a little Love.