Primary teacher awarded for work in disability space

28 March 2023

Our Lady Star of the Sea Primary School Year 4 teacher Janica Sell received the Australian Association of Special Education (AASE) WA Award earlier this year.

The AASE WA Award recognises an outstanding person who demonstrates a commitment to providing quality education using effective teaching/intervention strategies to advance the learning of students with special needs.

Janica, who is in her first year of teaching in this space, said the opportunities and experiences gained to date have been nothing short of rewarding.

‘Watching the growth in terms of academic, social, and emotional priorities over the year was outstanding and I thoroughly enjoyed celebrating these with not only my student but also with the Education Assistants and family as well.

‘As teachers we have a limited amount of time to try and make an impact on these students while they are in our class. From setting goals to achieving great milestones it is amazing to be a small part of their journey.

‘I learned so much about my own teaching style and the assumptions we can make about our students. I realised how important it is to ensure we are making learning accessible to all students, regardless of their needs.’

Recalling her experience working with a nonverbal Year 4 student with autism spectrum disorder, using a Language Acquisition through Motor Planning (LAMP) device, Janica shared some of the strategies used to assist the student’s development.

‘Some of the main strategies that were implemented involved adjusting our learning environment and instructional methods to ensure the student’s needs were being met. Our priority was to continue development in the Literacy learning area. With support from Carolyn Italiano, we implemented the systematic phonics program and predictable chart writing which the education assistants helped facilitate. We worked hard to provide real life experiences to provide an appropriate context that the students could draw upon to make learning more meaningful.’

Janica credited the support of CEWA Disability Consultant Carolyn Italiano and her peers for this achievement.

‘Receiving this award is truly a reflection of the inclusive environment at our school, as well as the consistent guidance provided by my mentor and leadership team. I also have the privilege of working alongside passionate Education Assistants that help to facilitate the work I do each day.

‘I thank the association for this award and am very grateful for the opportunity to further enhance my skills into the future.’

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