Julie Sconyers was recently promoted to coordinator of special education for Daleville City Schools and she spoke to the Daleville Lions Club on Tuesday, Nov. 12, about her 24 years of experience and her passion for teaching and working with special education students.
“I have served students in Pre-K through 12 grade in the special education classroom and as a psychometrist. Being the special education director has been my dream job my entire career,” Sconyers said. “I have a passion for special needs students and helping them succeed. I have made it my mission to help those who can’t necessarily help themselves. I love helping and supporting teachers and giving them strategies and recommendations on how to help them teach students with special needs. My main priority is serving and providing for the needs of students.”
Sconyers said a psychometrist does the intellectual and achievement and behavior testing for special education and gifted students.
According to Sconyers, Daleville City Schools has been working to improve special education services for students. They are working to develop new intervention methods.
“I have a great support system in all of my efforts to improve special education. Dr. Stamps has been wonderful these first few months. She is a great mentor. She also has a huge passion for special needs students and we have seen great things happen in these first few months,” Sconyers said. “We are in the process of starting an intervention room for students who have some behavior problems, whether it is a student in kindergarten that we have not quite figured out exactly what is causing the behavior issue to students who have autism who need that smaller space environment. We are working with them and giving them strategies and helping them figure out how to interact socially appropriate in the general education classroom or the self contained classroom.”
Sconyers said the school system has experienced a dramatic increase in special education students in the first three months of school.
“The first three months of school we had close to 80 new special education students enroll at Daleville. These are students who either came to us in-state who already had an IEP or came to us from out of state with an IEP or students who either were a student of ours or enrolled in kindergarten with a psychological evaluation indicating autism, conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder or another behavior issue,” Sconyers said. “Some years, as the psychometrist, I did not even test 80 students all year long. So to have almost 80 students in the first three months of school is huge. Our special education population is growing by leaps and bounds and we are excited to be providing services to meet these students’ needs.”
According to Sconyers, more staffing is needed but is difficult to find.
“It is a very difficult area to find competent, passionate, willing teachers to take on those demanding but rewarding roles. That is what we are looking at now, looking at ways to maybe recruit the best of the best because these students have great needs and deserve the best,” Sconyers said. “They are not the typical special education students that you think of with just learning disabilities. Most of our students have learning disabilities but a lot of them deal with mental issues and have mental diagnoses that cause a great deal of distress while they are at school.”
Sconyers works closely with the parents to highly encourage them to seek outside care for the student to get the necessary interventions to help the students be successful in all environments. This includes supporting parents through the entire process and encouraging parents to keep appointments and medication up to date.
“I think that overall there are so, so many more needs than there were when we were growing up or even 10 years ago. A lot of them are mental health needs and that’s a problem nation wide. There is limited help available for these kids that have mental health issues. It is such a fight to get them the help that they need. There are many battles we fight every day, all day because teachers are not mental health counselors,” Sconyers said. “But we are trying to do what we can to give teachers and students support and the tools that are needed to be successful. Each day, each hour, is challenging, but I love it, it is my passion, the kids are my heart.”
Coordinating special education services isn’t Sconyers only responsibility. She is also the 504 Coordinator, EL Coordinator, Gifted Coordinator, System Attendance and the Mentor/Mentee Liaison.
“There’s never a dull moment, ever. No rest and no time to eat lunch, but the work is rewarding. I miss my babies in the classroom, but I feel I am able to reach more needs in the position I am in now. I look forward to the many positive things that are happening in Daleville City Schools,” Sconyers said.