Employee Heartbeat – For the Love of Teaching

special education teacher

How Special Education Teacher Jenny Howard knew she’d found her place

At Bethany Children’s Health Center, our employees truly are the heartbeat that drives the organization. Every day, through the care and service they provide, they live our mission of maximizing the potential of every child and exemplify our core values of compassion, integrity, excellence, service and stewardship.

We hope you enjoy getting to know our amazing employees through our Heartbeat profiles.

As we recognize National Teacher Appreciation Week, we are highlighting Special Education Teacher, Jenny Howard, and the importance of education for the patients at Bethany Children’s.

 Learning, development and fun don’t stop when a child is admitted to Bethany Children’s Health Center. Special Education Teacher, Jenny Howard, is one of nine special education teachers who work with patients daily at Bethany Children’s. Patients are enrolled at Bethany Public Schools, but are taught at the Hospital by our amazing teachers. Goals for school-aged children are outlined in the Individual Education Plan (IEP) that is developed for each child.

“By attending class at Bethany Children’s, kids keep up with their academic goals. They also get out of the units and are able to explore and interact with different environments provided by the education department. Students can experience Prom, Summer Fun Days, the Pathways Program and many more organized activities, similar to those attended by students in public school,” Jenny explains.

Jenny’s teaching background of 16 years in public schools prepared her in some ways for her position at Bethany Children’s, but it was God that placed her where she needed to be. Jenny had prayed for guidance when she felt she needed a change in her career. Her prayer was answered when she was accepted into a scholarship graduate program focusing on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and Transition at the University of Oklahoma. While in the program, she made a dear friend named Catherine who told her about Bethany Children’s and let her know when a special education teaching position opened up a few months later.

“I know that because of prayer, meeting Catherine was in God’s plan to show me where I needed to be,” she shares.

Jenny considers it a privilege to come to work every day at Bethany Children’s. “When you love what you do, it’s hard to call it a job,” she says. Her office mate, Matt Harder, is someone she can bounce ideas off and work closely with to ensure the success of their students. Jenny loves that the whole education team works together as a family, sharing the same joy, excitement and love for the children in their classrooms. And it is those children who inspire Jenny the most.

“I love coming to work every day, teaching the coolest kids around! You can be in a mood or worried about what is going on in your life, and then you see the kids and it fades away,” she says. “As a teacher, once a child is in your class you will do anything for them and love them like your own.”

It’s often the little things that bring the most joy in a day as a special education teacher, and Jenny recalled a recent moment that was rewarding for her. “I have a student who rarely smiles and when he does it isn’t a full-blown smile,” she explains. “We were having music therapy and using scarves. I took a scarf and ran it over his face while singing (off key) and he started laughing, with full body and head movements. It was the best sight and sound!  I knew in that moment that this is where I was meant to be, and this is why I do what I do.”

Fun Facts

What you wanted to be when you grew up: “I always wanted to be in the medical field. One day it would be a brain surgeon, the next day a forensic pathologist, then a nurse. But here I am, a special education teacher!”

A recent accomplishment you are proud of: “Receiving my Master’s degree in 2019.”

Family facts: “I have a husband that puts up with me! LOL, We have a blended family that consists of three kids, four grandkids, and our two dogs Buddy and Dexter.”

Favorite hobbies/ways to spend free time: “Spend time with my grandkids, deer hunt, be lazy and watch Netflix, and come up with home projects for my husband!”

Favorite food: “A good ole bowl of beans, cornbread, and fried taters!”

Favorite inspirational saying/quote/verse: “Be still, and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10

Favorite TV show: “The Rookie and Alone. After watching Alone, I believe I could survive a day in the cold forest of Alaska or Canada!”

From the Bucket List: “Travel to Scotland (to learn about my family history) and Ireland.”

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