A graduate of the Multiple Abilities Program at the University of Alabama, Lucas has been teaching since 2004. She’s currently in her first year of teaching kindergarten and first grade special education at University Place Elementary School.
Lucas said she remembers one lesson she learned from a former student. The student was considered medically fragile and ended up passing away due to his illnesses – but not before he taught Lucas a thing or two.
“He taught me that even if someone cannot speak with words, or in a wheelchair, or rely on others for everything, they are still a very vital part of our schools and society,” she said. “The sense of understanding and communication came and he showed me that he had something to say. He let me know I did a good job and he loved me. I became more of an advocate for all students in the school system because of him. He didn’t use words to communicate, but he spoke and removed barriers, mountains of misinterpretations.”
Lucas said the one thing she wished people knew about education is that it’s a calling, not a job. She said teachers spend more time in thought or action with others’ children than their own.
Even though a teacher is most likely thinking of your child instead of theirs, that doesn’t mean a parent can’t help out. Lucas said taking time to communicate with a child’s teacher about what they can do at home and being involved at the school are always welcome.
Lucas said in her years of teaching, she’s been able to teach three children during their entire elementary experiences. She said the children are what she considers her biggest accomplishment.
“When you teach students with different abilities, as I do, the smallest things to the typical child is the biggest thing to some of these kids,” she said. “Just to be able to communicate with another person, even if it is with a communication device, is huge.”
As for new teachers, Lucas said building relationships with students and their families is key. Going the extra mile for a student as if they were your own was another piece of advice she had. She said being patient was also important – as a student herself, Lucas finds her lessons with her students.
“My students are teachers,” she said. “They all teach me.”