As Bonnie relates her career journey, she says, “I left my para-position at Head Start to student teach, and then, I returned to finish the school year as a paraprofessional. The following fall, I was hired as a special education resource teacher at Lincoln Elementary School. I worked with students ranging from kindergarten through sixth grade who required special education services. It was a huge adjustment for me, but it ended up being a wonderful experience.
I was recruited by Sharon Linstrum, director of Special Education, to move mid-year from Lincoln to Head Start to provide Great Falls Public School special education support. I worked with Head Start students for about six years before moving to Skyline where I was the special education resource teacher with the students in full-day preschool.
Eventually, I taught in a self-contained classroom. I loved working with the preschoolers who needed special education support.
Bonnie remembers a “practice lockdown” when she was working with Head Start students. She says, “I missed the memo that a lockdown means doors are locked; lights are off, and no sound is made.” The lockdown became memorable because she had her students take out musical instrument. She says, “We were having a loud, fun time until the principal came in to let us know that we were supposed to be quiet and have no lights on.”
In reflecting on what makes her most proud about her teaching experience, Bonnie says, “I have always been proud to say I am a special education teacher. When I see my former students out in the community, I love when they come and fill me in on what they are doing. I have been invited to graduation parties of former students. I told one former student it warms my heart and makes me so happy to see them as successful as they are.
From her teaching career, Bonnie says, “I feel I have learned to understand the importance of compassion and respect for everyone, and that everyone can learn to become as independent as they can be. I will miss the relationships with staff, families, and my students. I will also miss seeing the growth each student achieves from the beginning of the school year through the end of the school year.”
Bonnie says her plans for retirement include being as involved in her grandson’s life as she can be as well as having time to sit back and breathe. “My father recently passed away, and I am super busy with getting his affairs in order. Eventually, I might want to volunteer in a school.”