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TAKE 5 with EC | Lucas Harris, EC Teacher

LucasHarris

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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 Lucas Harris, an EC teacher at Easley Elementary School. Learn more about Becky below.

Why did you choose a career in special education? 

I actually did a lateral entry program to teach middle school language arts right after I graduated with a degree in sociology. I never quite settled into it. I started to spend a lot of time in one of the special program classes at the middle school where I was working during my planning. That's the part of my day that brought me the most joy, so I decided to start doing that all day.

Tell us about your daily work in assisting students with disabilities at your school or throughout the district.

We work a lot on communicating--but rarely with mouth words. Most of the students that I work with use AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) for all of their communication. This can look a lot like play, which makes it a lot of fun! Whenever we work on academic skills, we do it around a framework of simultaneously building communication skills.

What do you enjoy most about working with students with disabilities?

I love getting to know my students and watching them grow. One of the advantages of working with students in a special program is getting to follow them for longer. It gives me a chance to really make an impact.

Describe your approach in meeting the needs of exceptional students, specific to your discipline.

I try to ground my daily interactions with students in my foundational beliefs and practices that inform my instruction. I've narrowed it down to three: modeling and practicing consent, putting communication first, and presuming competence. We work a lot on communicating--but rarely with mouth words. This can be very playful, which makes it a lot of fun!  

 

  • What is one thing you want the DPS community to know about your work and the students you support? 

The students I work with are people. They are their actual age, and you should interact with them as you would interact with any other child their age. It's incredibly common and incredibly disrespectful when an adult baby talks to a 10-year-old. And the students don't like it. Assume that students with disabilities understand everything you are saying around them and to them.