Laura Benham | Guthrie Upper Elementary
I'm such a big fan of Laura. I get the opportunity to talk to her on a weekly bases because of my volunteering at her school. She is so passionate about her work. She is so kind. And I really enjoy listening to her talk about the work she does with the special olympics. I'm big time glad she let me share a little of her story and thoughts.
Give us you very cool name:
My name is Laura Benham.
Where do you teach?
Guthrie Upper Elementary
How long have you been teaching?
What grade do you teach?
4th - 6th grade Special Education
What's your favorite school supply?
I love the smell of a brand new box of crayons! I also love Sharpies in all different colors!
Who was your favorite teacher and why?
Mrs. Ida B. Smith from Meeker Elementary. She was my 4th grade teacher. There was never a dull moment in her class. She was inspiring and funny. She made you want to do everything better, even be a better person. She let each of us know that she loved us, yet she was very structured. She was like E. F. Hutton, when she spoke everyone listened!
What is your super power to be able to rock out the work you do?
I have the unique opportunity to have my students for three consecutive years. Therefore I really get to know them and their families. I have constant communication with the student's parents. I believe that communication with parents is essential, and lets the students know that their education is important to me. Many times my students become like part of my family.
What made you want to teach?
Well, my mother said that I always wanted to boss people around so I became a teacher! Seriously though, my little brother was my inspiration for becoming a Special Education teacher. He was born with numerous health challenges and was unable to attend school much. He had teachers that came to our home and watching them work with him was amazing. We all learn differently, and figuring out what works best with each individual is always rewarding.
What gets you up everyday to go give your all to teaching?
Every year I have students that inspire me! They come to school everyday with challenges whether it is physical challenges, health issues, or family struggles. Each day they are at school waiting for me to teach them. I hope they know that are loved and cared for, even if I am a "good yeller" (recently one of my students gave me this compliment) . I also must give a shout out to my two amazing Paraprofessionals that I have in my classroom, Mrs. Norton and Mrs. Stovall. I do so enjoy coming to work each day with these ladies. I am truly blessed to have them in my classroom.
If you could change one thing about education, what would you change?
I would change that students with special needs would not be held to the same academic standards as those in the general education classroom. At one time Oklahoma had a modified test for these students that was much better suited for them. Testing causes so much frustration for my students and the teachers.
Resilient. We have the ability to bounce back from unanticipated changes. Things are always changing in education. Some of the changes are welcomed and others not so much.
What is one tip you would share to be a successful teacher?
Be flexible. Life happens, the lesson plan you may have for the day may not be what gets taught as planned. Sometimes, something presents itself that is a teachable moment. Go with it!
What would you do if you were not teaching?
Real Estate - I have always loved looking at houses and neighborhoods.
The last time you cried at the end of the day teaching was because of what?
Last Friday. When I think about the possible teacher strike I get very emotional. I feel a loyalty to my students, but I also want to stand up for teachers and educational funding because our students deserve so much better.
Who inspires you in your work and why?
My co-workers inspire me. I see so many dedicated teachers who spend countless hours at school working on lessons, grading papers, doing paper work, cleaning their classrooms, and so much more. I love all my co-workers!
How would you describe a conversation with one of your students?
I had a student who would try to get out of his work by telling me that I was "as pretty as a pineapple!" He would always have very sweet thing to tell us everyday, and he had a way of making you feel better when you were having a bad day!
What is it that the world does not know about teachers?
Teachers tend to refer to our students as "our kids." We tend to talk about "our kids" with our family when we want to brag about an accomplishment made in class. Often times these "kids" do become like part of our family.
Share your biggest joy teaching as of today?
Years ago I had a student that absolutely hated coming to school. He missed at least two days a week. I found out that he loved playing sports so I used Special Olympics as a motivator for him. That year, my class participated in every Special Olympics sports we could. We had a basketball team, golf team, and track and field team. He had to keep up his grades and attend school to participate. He began to LOVE school. This kid started coming to school each morning and before the school was even opened. He went from talking about dropping out at 16 to graduating and being a successful employee. After graduation, he attended Special Olympics National Games representing the State of Oklahoma in track and field. His story was even featured at the National Games. He now volunteers at Special Olympics each year.
One thing that makes you smile?
Special Olympics! The joy my students have while participating in the events makes my heart happy! I want to let our community know how much Guthrie Special Olympics appreciates the tremendous support they give to our athletes! We couldn't attend Special Olympics with out the support of our wonderful community! We will #GOWIN!