The young boy pleads for his bottle. He wants nothing to do with solid foods. In fact, he doesn’t even know how to eat with a spoon due to his disability. But Erin Wood encourages him to continue trying. She works with him relentlessly and looks forward to the day when the young boy will pick up the spoon himself.
“It’s tough when you don’t see regular progress with your students, but when you do see that ‘light’ go on in their head, it’s worth it in the end,” Erin said.
Erin Wood, a 2008 elementary and special education graduate from Huntington University, heard through the grapevine about a teaching position at Manchester Intermediate School in Manchester, Ind., as the intermediate transition teacher for moderate cognitive disability students. Her primary focus is to work with students who have great academic potential, but struggle to keep up with the grade level curriculum. She also teaches her students functional and life skills.
“I teach them how to do chores around the house, instruct them on the laws of society and help them understand everyday tasks such as transferring money from one account and how to behave in public,” Erin said. “I want to prepare them to be a contributing member in the community.”
In high school, Erin got involved with peer tutoring, a program designed to place mentors with younger students struggling within the school system. She worked with special education students and knew she wanted to pursue a career working in the special education field. She first worked with a young boy in Fort Wayne diagnosed with autism and conducted his behavioral therapy. Erin continued to work with the student throughout her time at HU.
“I got into a real-life classroom beginning my sophomore year,” Erin said. “Huntington University does a good job getting you hours in the classroom. I felt prepared to take the reigns when it came time to student teach.”
Outside of the classroom, Erin joined Kappa Delta Pi, the education department honors society, and was elected as the vice president. The honors society traveled to seminars and conventions and listened and networked with professionals in the field who gave presentations ranging from the importance of education to activities to do with students in the classroom.
“I think my classmates and I could have given the presentations at those conventions,” she said. “We knew everything the presenters were talking about because Huntington did an excellent job preparing us for the career field.”
Along with the quality academic preparation, Erin enjoyed the spiritual encouragement HU fostered among its students. One of Erin’s friends even approached her about wanting to initiate a Bible study and form a small group with some mutual friends.
“She was bold enough to say she wanted to start a Bible study, and I think we all secretly desired it too,” Erin said. “The time we spent together helped deepen our friendships. Those friendships have continued to last and remain meaningful. Every few months, we try to still get together.”
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