Sarah Kennedy from Nelson is using her 2016 Fulbright New Zealand Distinguished Award in Teaching to research the transition from school for students with high learning needs and which aspects of leadership around this process produce the most effective outcomes. Sarah is Head of the Special Education Department at Waimea College.
I became a teacher 30 years ago because I had so enjoyed being a Camp America horse riding instructor in my gap year in Vermont. I went on to specialise as a Special Education teacher when I realised I had a passion for finding ways to help struggling learners succeed. At Waimea College Special Education Department in Nelson, I enjoy working alongside 40 outstanding students and their families as part of a dynamic, committed teaching team. No two days are the same!
It has been great to have the luxury of time to study and think on my exchange. I am enjoying the friendships within the cohort of 21 fellow Fulbright teachers from 9 other countries – Palestine, Israel, Singapore, Finland, Taiwan, Indian, Morocco, Mexico and Botswana.
A highlight about this exchange so far was a magnificent weekend trip to Chicago with my Fulbright group.
I am focussing on Transition Education for students accessing Special Education support – how teaching self determination skills will improve long term, quality of life outcomes.
It has been a challenge to adapt to living on my own. I’m missing my family and friends and trying hard to apply critical thinking to the multitude of readings from my two post graduate University courses in Comparative Education and Evidence Based Practice in Special Education. Both have challenged my brain from different angles!
I am very much looking forward to sharing with colleagues my learning about self determination assessment and teaching from an International Transition Education conference in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina that I’m excited to attend next week. Hopefully the Hurricane Matthew will have left the area by then.
When I get home, I am looking forward to showing my students the many photos I’ve taken – including one of the groundhog that lives outside my apartment window and one of a 25cm colossal chocolate chip cookie!
My advice for future applicants for the programme is just do it!
My advice for future applicants for the programme is just do it! Put a quality application together and be patient.