Sally Hile '12SW on Being a Special Education Teacher

January 16, 2017

Education alumna Sally Hile says teaching is full of unexpected adventures.

What is your current job and what does it entail?

Since August of 2015 I've worked as a 5th grade special education liaison at the Wilson Middle School in the Natick Public Schools. 

As a 5th grade special education teacher, I manage sixteen 5th grade students with various profiles including Specific Learning, Autism, Health, ADHD and Emotional disabilities. Along with two other 5th grade special educators, I collaborate and co-teach across five "Teams," each with two general education teachers and 50 students.  My day-to-day includes teaching two intensive small group math classes and co-teaching three different inclusion math classes.

Every day is different and full of unexpected adventures, which I love. Sometimes I don’t love it in the moment but in retrospect I'm always grateful for what I get to experience each day. I work with so many incredible people and I love being part of a collaborative team. 

What brought you to Simmons?

Simmons professors care a tremendous amount about their students. They have extensive and varied knowledge of special education in both public inclusion and private therapeutic settings. The professors also have solid networks and connections with amazing schools and professionals in the Boston area. I connected immediately to the coursework, full year practicum and my advisor, Jane Hardin

How did Simmons prepare you for your current job?

The full year practicum was the most valuable part of my program at Simmons. The combination of class work and practical classroom experience, as well as mentoring from professionals in the field and Simmons advisors, was tremendously helpful. The Education Career Fair was an integral culmination of my graduate program as I was able to interview with 8-10 different districts and charter schools that day and hone my networking skills in a relatively low-stress environment. 

Allan Blume's Special Education Law class and IEP writing was one of the most helpful courses in my 2 years at Simmons. Paperwork can be daunting and IEP timelines and regulations are always changing. This class equipped me with the skills to be on top of it as well as relay this information to your team. 

In what ways is your career rewarding?

I get to connect with students who are hilarious, smart, kind, open-minded and resilient. They teach me more about myself and about life than anything or anyone could. I laugh every day and feel amazing that I've connected with at least one person that day. 

I have a Dr. Seuss image and quote outside of my room that I keep at every job I've had in the past 6 years — it sums up why I do what I do. "Unless someone like you cares a whole lot, it's not going to get better, it's not." - Dr. Seuss