Returning to a “special” place

Karen Deland started her teaching career at The Matheny School in 1979. She left a year later to teach in the Quakertown, N.J., public school system, then went to law school and then raised a family. But two years ago, feeling that she missed working with “special students,” she came back to Matheny. And she’s the first to say, she’s a better teacher for it all.

Deland, who was named the 2010 Educator of the Year at Matheny, says “flexibility and patience” are the keys to working with special needs children. Though her students’ medical conditions are more complex now than when she first taught here, she attributes Matheny’s technological innovations as critical for succeeding with these complicated teaching requirements.

Matheny is “top-of-the line technology-wise for the students,” she says. “Everybody’s treatment is different and individualized. Without the technology, we would be doing textbook learning, which isn’t really appropriate for our population.”

Deland, show above with student Daniel Gaudreau, was recently featured in her hometown newspaper, the Berkeley Heights Patch. You can read her story here.