Teacher of the Year Finalist: Special Education Teacher Suzanne Boyd Uses Past Experience to Reach Students

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May 9, 2018 by HCDE-Texas

20180406_TOY_0063Suzanne Boyd knew from a young age she wanted to be a teacher, but her experience in law enforcement led her to special education. In her second year as a special education teacher at Harris County Department of Education’s Academic and Behavior School West, Boyd brings a unique perspective to her job.

Boyd began working for the Houston ISD Police Department in 1989 as a campus officer, where she interacted with students daily and often resolved conflicts and concerns. During her tenure, she developed a passion for working with students with social and emotional issues and wanted to reach them before they were placed into the criminal justice system.

Her law enforcement experience combined with two degrees in psychology helped Boyd realize there are many mental and emotional disturbances that mirror criminal intent.

“It became my passion to help high-risk students with learning and emotional challenges reach their full potential,” said Boyd. “I felt I could be a role model and advocate for students with special needs.”

HCDE’s Academic and Behavior Schools provide an enriching and supportive environment for students with intellectual, developmental and behavioral challenges. Area school districts contract with the two schools that provide specialized instruction to prepare students ages 5-21 to return to their home districts.

AB School West Principal Victor Keys says Boyd is the greatest advocate for her students and has experienced the highest success rate at the school in sending students back to their home campuses. She was also selected as the campus’ 2018 Teacher of the Year.

Boyd’s greatest joy as a teacher is watching her students grow and show progress despite personal and physical challenges. Her classroom is differentiated, so each student works on their own level, at their own pace. Boyd rises to this challenge by providing alternative approaches to learning and presenting material in a variety of ways so each student can learn as deeply as possible.

Boyd also combines her differentiated instruction with social skills development so her students are empowered socially and intellectually. She encourages them daily to respect others and explore learning in creative ways.

“I want to make an impact on young minds and help students believe they can learn, overcome challenges and accomplish any dream if they work hard enough,” said Boyd. “I also hope to inspire my students to become role models in their communities.”

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