REGION — Being the Director of Special Services for SAD 44 is a rewarding job, exclaims Jeanne Cordeiro.

“I think for me, any kid that makes progress, whether I worked with them in the past directly, or in my role now as a Director, when I see kids making gains, I feel good,” says Cordeiro. “Even if they’re not the kids that I personally work with, but knowing that I’m part of that team that made that happen, that’s very rewarding.”

Cordeiro has an outstanding long-term record working with kids with disabilities. Her whole life she knew she wanted to be a teacher. As a child, she’d always play school with her friends (she was the teacher, of course). When she got to college, she took an Intro to Special Ed class and loved it.

“I loved learning about the different disabilities and how we can work with those students and they can make progress….it just blew my mind,” Cordeiro says passionately.

Passion is something Cordeiro has never lacked. Finishing university in three in a half years, she jumped right into an elementary position.

Are there any lessons her students have taught her?

“I would say they’ve taught me to be able to be flexible and take things in stride,” says Cordeiro thoughtfully. “And I might have to re-do something. And it’s okay. You know if you’re a teacher, if your lesson doesn’t go as planned. Or, if they don’t get it at that moment, it’s alright. You can revisit it again the next day and it’s okay. They’ll get there.

“I’ve also learned, and all the kids have taught me, that no matter what their disability, whether it’s a mild disability or significant one, anyone can learn and that’s the one thing I have absolutely seen, that no matter what,” she says enthusiastically.

“I’ve had people say to me in the past, when I was a Director in the past, someone said, certain kids with certain disabilities, they can’t learn. And I said, nope, I disagree with you,” says Cordeiro firmly. “Nope, every student can learn. We have to believe in it ourselves, too. But you can see it in every kid. Every kid can learn, no matter what. And that’s the biggest thing.”

So what does her role look like day-to-day?

She attends meetings, and when the team is developing an individualized educational program, she helps come up with a program around the student’s needs.

She also does grant writing, talking with the parents, providers, Special Ed teachers, Ed Techs; there are a lot of different layers.

“…Really it’s a lot of thinking outside of the box,” she says.

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