Olivia Harris felt prepared for her first day as a student teacher yet her preparedness didn't help her nervousness or uncertainty. “I was terrified,” said Harris. “You’re in an unknown environment with an entire building of unfamiliar faces. It’s definitely nerve wracking at first but you get comfortable quickly.”

Harris is a 2017 Special Education, M.S. graduate and spent time at Maryvale Primary School for his first placement. She followed that up with a student teaching position at Dr. George E. Blackman, Public School 54 in a 4th-grade special education class.  

“Special education is much more gratifying for me than general education,” said Harris.  “Not only are you making academic gains, but you make personal and emotional gains as well.  You build stronger connections with students and can adjust your instruction based on student needs and abilities.”

Harris advises first-year education students to ask questions, keep a journal, and show confidence in everything they do. “Most importantly, just be yourself with your students,” said Harris. “They will absolutely be able to tell if you’re being phony.”

After graduation, Harris moved to St. Petersburg, Florida where she accepted a position as a 3rd-grade math and science teacher.