TAKE 5 with EC | Becky Haigler, EC Teacher
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Durham Public Schools is proud to launch Take 5 with EC. This series spotlights our Exceptional Children’s team. Each month, you’ll meet one of our outstanding practitioners and learn a little about their area of focus and how they are helping DPS special needs students excel and thrive.
This month, we are pleased to introduce Becky Haigler, an EC teacher at Northern High School. Learn more about Becky below.
- Why did you choose a career in Deaf Education?
I am a proud graduate of Durham Public Schools. I met my first friend who was Deaf in the second grade. I was fascinated with how she communicated using sign language. We continued our friendship through our journey into Junior High at Lowes Grove and then high school at Southern. In the 80s and 90s, Lowes Grove and Southern served as the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Center-Based programs at the secondary level. We had an active ASL club that I immersed myself in. The DHH Teachers at the time, Ms. McCain and Ms. Neal, honestly were the ones who influenced my desire to become a teacher. I got to see first-hand the successful ways that they made education accessible to my Deaf friends. The first two years of my teaching career were at a Bilingual-Bicultural preschool program, Circle of Friends, through the Eastern NC School for the Deaf. And for the past twenty-one years, I have been honored to teach students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing here in Durham Public Schools. I am in awe when I think about how I’ve come full circle and returned to the passion that was sparked back in my school days.
- Tell us about your daily work in assisting students with disabilities at your school or throughout the district.
I am an itinerant teacher, so I travel around to different school sites every day serving students at the Preschool to High School level. I work with students in their general education classes to make sure accommodations are in place or support them with accessing their curriculum. I also serve many students who are Deaf Plus, meaning they are Deaf and have other areas of need. I monitor student amplification, document language development through data collection and assessments, and collaborate with other teachers and interpreters to monitor student progress. A lot of time management comes with being an itinerant teacher. Another duty is that I serve on the Preschool Assessment Team. I enjoy working with parents to help them understand their young child’s hearing loss, how to navigate technology and amplification use, help them discover a communication mode that best fits their child and family, and support their child’s journey into education through implementing their IEP.
- What do you enjoy most about working with our students with disabilities?
My passion is working with students who are Deaf-Plus. As educators, we are constantly learning and adapting to the needs of our students. It is intriguing watching how they view the world around them and rewarding to see them develop communication skills to build their independence. I value the sense of community that we develop.
- Describe your approach in meeting the needs of exceptional students, specific to your discipline.
I view myself as a team player and an advocate. I often work with large teams of educators and service providers, and I have found that communication and collaboration are key! I have learned a lot working with other teachers and have also been able to share my knowledge of language acquisition and accessibility with them, as well. We are constantly re-evaluating and redesigning to make sure our students' unique needs are being met. I also value parent involvement. Parents know their child best and it is important for us to work together and communicate. The language and advocacy skills that we are working on at school must carry over into the home environment.
- What is one thing you want the DPS community to know about your work and the students you support?
Often Deaf students are limited to interactions with only others who share their same communication mode. It can feel isolating if no one around you knows sign language. So, when you meet a Deaf individual, go ahead and take a chance. Wave “hello”. Make an effort to communicate. You just might break communication barriers and develop friendships, just like I experienced many years ago.