The Cherokee School District has many new faces for the 2005-06 school year. Cari Higgins is one such new face. You will find her teaching in the special needs classroom for second, third, and fourth grade students at Roosevelt Elementary.
Higgins and her husband, Shane, raise their two children in Remsen where they attend Remsen St. Mary's. Her daughter, Shanna, is a sophomore, and her son, Skyler is in eighth grade. In addition to enjoying time with her family, Higgins volunteers with 4-H, Youth Choir at her church and is the church organist.
Higgins comes to the district well qualified and eager to teach. She has her Bachelor of Arts in elementary education from Buena Vista University and she completed her special education endorsement last spring.
Higgins discovered her love for special education when she worked in a resource room at LeMars Community School, while she was taking classes. Prior to that she taught sixth grade at Spalding Catholic in Granville.
Right now she works with ten students helping them with reading, language, and math. She enjoys the students because they are all unique and have different strengths which she uses to their advantage for strengthening their weak areas. Working in the special needs area she is able to work with a smaller group of children. She loves to see them progress and learn. It also makes teaching and learning fun because a special needs teacher sometimes has to be creative in her teaching methods to help the students. One of her methods includes the use of a class mascot, Spencer the Gopher. He even has his picture on the bulletin board with the other students.
When she was working on her special education certificate one of the bits of information she learned was there is a higher burnout rate among special needs teachers. She says she learned to look for small gains to prevent the frustration, because you can't expect the same rate of progress for special needs students. She also adds that much of what she learned for teaching special needs students can also be applied in a regular classroom.
The transition into the Roosevelt building has been a smooth and enjoyable experience. She says the whole staff has been very friendly and helpful, "It's nice to be a part of a nice strong school district." She is looking forward to helping the students in her class progress and find their strengths.
A bit of advice she offers parents is "The more you can read to your children at home and work with them with any skill they are having difficulty with benefits them in the classroom."