Nicole McCaskey teaches special needs children in her class at Roosevelt Middle School. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Excellence in Teaching: Springfield special education teacher has own measure of success

Working with special needs students has allowed Nicole McCaskey to look at success in a different way.

McCaskey has been teaching for the last five years. She teaches handicapped and special needs students at Roosevelt Middle School in Springfield. She received her bachelor’s degree in special education from Bowling Green State University and is pursuing her master’s in administration.

McCaskey and three other teachers will be receiving the Excellence in Teaching award on March 18. The awards program is sponsored by the Springfield Rotary Club, Ohio Edison, the Springfield Foundation and the Chamber of Greater Springfield.

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Each recipient will be introduced and will give a presentation on what teaching has meant to them and the importance of being a teacher. Recipients also receive a $1,000 check, a glass apple and proclamations from the Ohio House of Representatives and the Ohio Senate.

Because she is a special education teacher, McCaskey said that somehow, receiving this award just feels more important. Her students don’t have abnormally-high test scores or perfect 4.0 grade point averages.

“For most teachers, they can measure their success through their students’ performance.” McCaskey said. “And they go on to receive awards based on those performance measures.”

McCaskey said that because her students don’t show their success in ways that are easy to measure against other students, she feels it is hard to compare her teaching abilities to that of another teacher.

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“My world of teaching is seen through a different looking glass, and that is why receiving the award after five years of teaching means so much to me,” McCaskey said. “I don’t use test scores to measure success. Instead, I have the pleasure of measuring success through independence, communication and connection.”

Connections, McCaskey said, are at the root of what teaching is about for her.

“To receive this award, I am one step closer to educating others to see past others’ disabilities and instead focus on their special abilities,” McCaskey said.

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