Paula Saindon is teaching her middle schoolers skills they can use for the rest of their life.

“The students learn to read the bus schedules, to plan trips into the community,” said Saindon, a special education teacher at Begich Middle School. “We show them different recreational opportunities out in the community to go to.”

Saindon says her classroom is a combination of functional academics and life skills. She views middle school as a bridge from elementary and high school and encourages the students to be more independent to boost their confidence.

“You want them to be able to get out and do as much as possible,” Saindon said. “Know that there are safe place for them to go and recreate and socialize and be with their friends and other people in the community.”

Saindon has a real connection with her students, and projects enthusiasm in all of her lessons. She wants her students to enjoy learning, and to approach school with a good attitude.

“It just doesn’t seem like work at all; we just come in and have a good time,” Saindon said.

Her students have a good time too. Cooking and dancing to get out the extra energy; they appreciate her approach.

“She is a wonderful teacher,” said Taylor, a student at Begich Middle School. “She is very kind.”

Kindness and a little bit of humor; its Saindon’s secret to success.

“I would say my sense of humor,” Saindon said. “Everybody always says that you need so much patience to be a special ed teacher and I’m always like, well. I wouldn’t say patience isn’t always at the top of my list, but I think a sense of humor is always at the top of my list.”

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