Masters in Special Education
Matt - MSpecEd
Through elementary and into high school Matt always felt like his path would lead to helping children. He was a slow learner and in and out of Special Education throughout school. Although his intelligence was high, he performed poorly in his classes. He was teased and bullied at a young age for being the kid who stood out. He was always the tallest in his class and had the thickest glasses to boot. His lack of self confidence played into his poor performance and he definitely knows how it feels to be “that kid”. Matt still struggled in high school, but was starting to find his way through sports and a good group of friends. It wasn’t until his senior year that his academics turned the corner. With the help of counseling, Speech and Language Pathologist and an Angel of a college student tutor he was able to build his academic confidence and learn the proper study skills to be successful. It was like a light bulb went off in his head.
Matt went onto college and studied Criminal Justice, with the intent to one day become a lawyer. Prior to graduate school he took a little “walk about” in Hawaii to think, learn about and challenge himself, and met some interesting people along the way. It was on this trip he decided he wanted more out of his future than sitting in a court room. Matt sat and prioritized his goals. Helping children was at the top of the list. Special Education is where his head was at and he applied and was accepted to the program that next fall.
In one of his upper level classes he saw a poster asking for individuals to work with special needs kids. They had to have a passion for children, patience, be kind, learn fast, and so on. He called the number on the flyer and the next thing he knew he had a job working several hours a week with a little boy with Autism. He was so skilled with his work, his supervisor approached him to take on more clients. Each child bonded well with Matt and the families thought he was such a gift to their family.
Furthering his career with special needs kids came easily, as his supervisor was able to teach and guide him expanding his knowledge at a quick pace. He stated at one point, he was learning more in working in the environment hands on than he had ever learned in one of his classes. He graduated at the top of his class with the intention of teaching at one of the local schools.
Matthew contacted the local school district and after one interview they asked him what his ultimate classroom would look like. Weeks later he was standing in it as a certified teacher in a classroom where the children were not segregated. They were included and taught, happy and making great strides as he was able to utilize the skills learned with his previous work with children.
In 2002, Matthew married the love of his life (= …me!!!! and my three munchkins. He had his hands full for sure, but continued to be an amazing mentor to our children at home and his kids at school. Moving to Utah with the family he worked for a short time as a Neurodevelopmentalist but eventually left to go back to teaching in the classroom. There was no classroom at our local school to teach the special needs kids, so they created one when Matt applied at the District. He received training in TEACCH (treatment and education of autistic and communication related issues), PECS (the Picture Exchange System), ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) and the MANDT system (a method used to prevent, de escalate or intervene when the behavior of the individuals poses a threat to themselves or others).
Matt quickly gained the respect and confidence of his students, their parents, his co-workers and the community. He brought a well-rounded common sense approach to his classroom. Student success was found in utilizing the best parts off all programs and not allowing himself to rely on one approach. He put emphasis on the function on the child and their quality of life. He measured success by how his students interacted with their age appropriate peers, self help skills and positive home life. He didn’t believe in spending a whole year just learning the numbers 1-10. That would be a disservice to the child. He is a compassionate, patient and understanding man who we are glad has become part of the Developmental and Behavioral Consultant team!
"Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much."