Yes, that’s what Erin Frazier, the super passionate and gregarious Special Education Director in York, Maine, told us this past December when we met with her. “I would love to see Special Education and regular education merged. Every student should have a plan.” Erin accepted our invitation to interview her on a variety of topics to get to know her better, learn about what some of her experiences have been, find out what’s important to her and why she pursued a career in special education.
We don’t have enough room in this blog to tell you what a fantastic and interesting person Erin is! A Midwesterner at heart, she has a rich past including world travel, a marriage proposal from a Prince (he offered 200 camels for her hand in marriage) as well as living in Washington, DC where she realized politics were not for her. Somewhere she found the time to become a professional potter!
When Erin landed in Portland, Maine it was there that her love for working with children really blossomed. Erin’s passion for working with kids grew and she was given many responsibilities by the teacher she worked with to experience rich educational opportunities. The tremendous experience she gained at that time was invaluable. This and other significant opportunities shaped her learning and ultimately led her to pursuing a Special Education teacher position. From there, she continued her education and completed a graduate degree in Special Education.
As Erin reflected on her fascinating career with special education, her secondary passion for the study of the human brain was also very apparent. She made many references to everyone having “different brains” and how “hugely important” it is to approach each student as their own unique individual while maintaining the “least restrictive environment possible for kids to learn.”
So it was not surprising when we asked her, “Why this job?”, her response included her insatiable desire to study research surrounding the human brain and bring her understanding to her special education community in the school setting. “Experience and learning; especially in day treatment. I know and seek to understand human behavior and do not take it personally when kids say or do certain things that others might find offensive. I LOVE THE BRAIN.” She went on to explain that she enjoys developing creative ways to enhance learning for all and looks out for the underdog, “I don’t want kids to feel disabled . . . school has traditionally catered to half the population vs. identifying strengths and needs . . . depersonalize behavior issues, and realize it’s more about learning an appropriate communication style.”
Erin talked about the possibilities of training all teachers to understand special education more fully to prepare them better to collaborate around diverse learning needs. If every teacher was prepared similar to a Special Education teacher, learning could lead to a “landmark approach”, which would allow more team time that involves discussion around learning.
We couldn’t help, but walk away from our hour-and-a-half meeting smiling and knowing that this professional will have an amazing impact on the school district and the educators and administrators with whom she interacts. Thanks so much Erin for your time.