Class Acts: A Q&A with Elizabeth Anson

Becky Zipser nominated Elizabeth Anson for Class Acts. Zipser said Anson values helping children with special needs and helping their parents cope with those special needs at home. She has extra long hours, a lot of extra paperwork and is very dedicated to all the children, Zipser added.

• Name: Elizabeth Reichmuth-Anson

• Age: 34

• City of residence: Patterson

• Occupation: Resource specialist at Northmead Elementary School, Patterson

• Family: Husband, Eric, daughter, Lauren, 2

• Education background: California State University, Stanislaus, bachelor's in liberal studies, concentration in exceptional youth and children; master's in special education, Chapman University

• Teaching experience: Twelve years, Patterson Unified School District: four years, special day class teacher; eight years, resource specialist

Why did you get into teaching? I got into teaching after tutoring and volunteering in special education classrooms when I was in high school and in college. I felt that I had the enthusiasm, patience, compassion and dedication needed to become a teacher.

What is your favorite thing about being a teacher? Making a difference in the lives of my students. I'm committed to helping each student reach their individual potential and educational goals. I truly love teaching and see each day as an opportunity for me to help my students grow and learn.

What is the most challenging part of your job? Differentiating the instruction. By differentiating instruction it allows me to make curriculum modifications in order to meet the needs of all of my students. It's important for me to create activities and adapt lessons that respond to the needs of all learners in my classroom.

What is the most important lesson you've learned? There has to be teamwork involved in educating children. It's imperative to work closely with parents, regular education teachers, administration and all support staff (speech and language specialists and school psychologists) to ensure that each student's individualized needs are being met.

What is your favorite teaching tool or activity? I teach small groups throughout the day. Each group focuses on reading, written language or math. I organize and utilize materials (graphic organizers, charts, manipulatives, flashcards, computer programs) to provide each student with instructional strategies designed to work successfully to meet their individualized needs. I feel it's important to have an effective learning environment that promotes learning and engages all students.

What's next in your classroom? After spring break, we have one week before STAR testing. During resource pullout, my small-group instruction will focus on reteaching key standards and test-taking strategies.

What advice do you have for students? I advise and reinforce to all of my students to work hard and to do their best in school. Hard work and dedication will not only increase their academic growth, but self-confidence as well.

What advice do you have for parents? It's essential for parents to be actively involved in their child's education. Parents should have regular communication with their child's teacher to stay informed regarding academic progress and discuss additional learning resources and activities to support their child's learning at home. I also feel that parents should also get involved by volunteering in their child's classroom or participating in school activities.

How do you reach students not interested in school? I make sure to praise specific behaviors to give students a sense of accomplishment. I also incorporate a daily behavior sticker chart for each student, use of intrinsic and extrinsic reinforcement, and a prize box for students when they meet their weekly goals.

What one area should schools put more emphasis on? Schools should continue to put emphasis on technology and staff development for teachers. I feel that when technology is integrated into the classroom, it helps promote learning and improves instruction by actively engaging students in interactive lesson activities.

If you could change one thing about the current educational system, what would it be and why? I would continue to put great emphasis on vocational education, agriculture, music, art and school sports programs. Many core education programs and resources are suffering major funding cuts due to the current budget crisis, and it's unfortunate that the children are ultimately the ones affected.

What would surprise people about your job? I think many people would be surprised about the number of hours that are spent after school on paperwork, lesson planning and collaboration with staff members. I'm also my school's Student Study Team and 504 Coordinator and responsible for setting up meetings with the site's team (including parent) to discuss intervention resources, instructional strategies and accommodations to implement that will assist a child's success in school.

What are your future plans? This summer I plan on enrolling in a professional development course in the area of special education. I also look forward to spending more time with my husband and daughter. I would also like to thank my instructional aide, Mrs. Howard, for her hard work and dedication throughout the school year.