Jenny Halley, Special Education Teacher & Case Manager at Gresham High School in Gresham, Oregon
Nominated by Mary Perkins (parent)
Mrs. Halley works with 15-25 students with varying abilities in the life skills classroom. My son has autism. Mrs. Halley goes above and beyond finding different ways to help her students learn the skills they need to succeed in this world that most of us take for granted. She thinks about these kids 24/7 it seems. I have often sent an email in the evening or on the weekend-thinking she could get back to me the next school day, but I will often get an immediate response answering my question or clarifying a situation about my son's day. My son was out of the classroom for a few weeks, and upon his return, she helped the other students welcome him back - a social scenarios that most of these kiddo's don't know how to do... but my son, who has very little social skills "talked" about his day, and how they welcomed him back....which is rare. She is always thinking of how to make things better for him and she is great at communicating with me, where my son can't. She my son and I know her expectations, asking for my input and informing me of ways I can support the things he is being taught in the classroom that help my son be a better person and learn to be a better part of society. She is BEYOND awesome!
Congrats, Jenny, from all of us at K103! Get to know Jenny Halley:
What inspired you to become an educator?
When asked what I wanted to be when I was older, my answer was always a teacher. My focus switched from elementary education to high school special education after I was a nanny for a very special family with two special needs children. As they got older I enjoyed teaching independence, life skills and social skills.
What do you like most about teaching?
I have the opportunity to work with students and their families for 4 straight years. I cherish the ability to get to know these families so well. I meet them as Freshmen and see them grow up to adults. It makes me very proud to see the progress they make from freshman year through senior year. The relationships that develop within my job is one reason why I continue in this profession.
What has changed the most since you began your career in education?
The rate of change has changed the most since I began my career. It seems every year there are more state policy changes, administrative changes and program changes on top of curriculum and teaching. The acceleration of change in 14 years has been astronomical.
What would you like parents to know about your job?
My team and I, strive to teach all students respect, compassion, social skills and valuable life skills. We value and cherish each and every student that enters our classroom.
Share a favorite story about your years in education.
We have built a fantastic transition program within my classroom that utilizes the great local businesses in the City of Gresham. Students have the opportunity to use the skills that we teach in the classroom and generalize them to work experiences in the community. Each student has a chance to help the city that they live in. I am extremely proud of the great success students have shown while volunteering their time in the City of Gresham.