Inside the New Classroom: Special education, Pound Middle School

This is part of an occasional series highlighting teachers who are adapting and finding innovative ways to teach through remote learning.

Gregg Eckery-Widick majored in business and special education in college. He chose special education as a career for three reasons - the same reasons that drive him to this day as a teacher at Pound Middle School.

“I like being a special education teacher because of the students and their variety of needs, working with parents and guardians, and the opportunity to work with remarkable teachers and administrators,” said Eckery-Widick, who has taught with Lincoln Public Schools for 19 years, the last six at Pound.

Those are also reasons why Eckery-Widick has adapted well to remote learning. He works with 22 students, a combination of sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. He started a Google classroom, sends plenty of emails to students, parents and administrators, and holds Zoom “office hours.”

Eckery-Widick said the majority of his students are responding well to remote learning and are turning in work to their classroom teachers. (Overall, Pound has a 91 percent engagement rate among its special education students.) There are a handful of his students he would like to see more engaged, but he reminds himself that different students and families face different challenges right now.  

He’s learned valuable lessons about himself, his students and his families.

“For me, it is the importance of having that personal contact with both students and teachers.  For students, it’s the perseverance they are showing during this difficult time because they have had to make major adjustments. For the families, I’ve learned they have shown strength, flexibility and a great amount of grace.”

As the school year winds down, Eckery-Widdick shares a simple message with his students - one that teachers across the school district are surely echoing: “I appreciate all of the hard work you have put forth during these unusual circumstances. Take care, be safe, and I can’t wait to see you in person again.”

Published: May 12, 2020, Updated: May 12, 2020