Ben’s Teacher Feature is going International this week! Today’s Featured Teacher is Elizabeth Upshall, special needs teacher at St Matthews Elementary from the Canadian Province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Mrs. Upshall was nominated by special needs mom Lisa Mackey, who has been a great supporter of Ben’s Adventures books. And Lisa’s son is also a Benjamin (so we have that in common). According to Lisa, This is a very special classroom! The teacher and program assistants look after each of the children as if they are their own. They make their days fun doing various activities and they include them with the rest of the school. My son, Benjamin, goes to school every day with a big smile on his face. He is non-verbal but he has so much to tell me in his own excited sounds about his school day. St. Matthew’s School is a very inclusive school. They have a friendship club where multiple students come into Benjamin’s classroom at recess time and read them stories or take them for walks in their wheelchairs in the hallways. Benjamin loves being in this classroom. Ms Upshall is a fabulous teacher and any time there is a substitute teacher they go above and beyond to make the day fun.
Now, In Mrs Upshall’s own words:
1. How long have you been teaching? It’s hard to believe that this is my 11th year of teaching! For most of my career I have worked as a special education teacher and have loved every minute. This is my first year teaching at St. Matthew’s in the Developmental Delay Unit even though I feel like I have taught there for years.
2. Why did you want to be a teacher? I think that it has always been my destiny to be a teacher. My mom tells the story of when I was young and all the little girls wanted Barbies and dolls, but I wanted markers and stickers because I wanted to play school! I grew up going through the Girl Guide movement and when I was old enough, became the leader of a Brownie group. I think this is what really started my love of teaching children. Then, when I went to university, teaching seemed like the only path for me. After completing my Primary/Elementary degree I went on to complete my Special Education degree as I knew that I wanted to teach children with special needs and help give them the best education possible.
3. What do you love most about teaching? Or how rewarding is it? The number one thing that I love about teaching is the students. This has been especially true this year and I can’t even explain in words how rewarding it has been. Before teaching in the Developmental Delay Unit I wasn't really sure what to expect. However, after spending the year with these incredible students, getting to know them (and their families), and helping them grow and learn it has been like no other teaching assignment that I have ever had. While all my students over the years have had some impact on my life or teaching, getting to see my students this year learn, grow and smile has been nothing short of amazing. These children have so many challenges and it’s an honor to help them learn, succeed and enjoy school. Each one of them has a special place in my heart!
4. What is the hardest part about being a teacher? The hardest part of being a teacher is making sure that I deliver a program that is effective for each of my students. Especially when teaching special education, the students’ abilities and needs are so different that I need to make sure their programming and the delivery of that program, is as unique as they are. This takes a lot of differentiated instruction and planning. I also strive for inclusion for these students. This can sometimes be difficult because of the students’ abilities and ways of learning, however I work hard to make inclusion possible whenever I can.
5. A little about yourself – where are you from? Are you married with children? Do you have pets? I live in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador in the community of Paradise. I am married to my high school sweetheart Mike and we have a handsome little boy named Carter who is 2 years old. We recently found out that we are going to be blessed with another baby and are excited to be welcoming another little boy this December! We also have a dog named Digger.
6. What do you like to do for fun? One of the things that I like to do for fun is bowl. My family has been involved in bowling for years and myself and husband bowl competitively. Besides bowling, I love to spend time with my family, take Carter to the park and travel.
7. What is one unique thing about you that kids might think is funny? School supplies are some of my favorite Christmas gifts!! New pens in my stocking (especially colored ones) are the absolute best!!! haha.
Congrats Ms Upshall! And thank you for giving your all to the students at St Matthews! It is very important work that you do.
To submit your own favorite teacher to be featured, click here.
To learn more about the Ben’s Adventures children’s books, click here.