There are many layer to teaching in special education. There are IEPs for each and every student; there is organizing and managing paraprofessionals who are the eye, ears and hands that care for students; some have additional responsibilities of being certified coaches in areas such as behavior or literacy for example; most important there are students with their individual personalities and needs. The best teachers are passionate about their jobs and care deeply for their students. We are lucky in Poudre School District Integrated Services to have teachers who push students to reach their full potential, being a cheerleader for them every step of the way.
Nestled in a hallway between two grade levels at Bacon Elementary School is the energetic classroom of Jill Cottingham. When praised for the work she is doing with her students she is quick to shift attention from herself and share the praise with all her colleagues in the Poudre School District autism program. Her care and enthusiasm for her students creates a warm, welcome environment. Here is more about Jill:
Jill holds a bachelor of science degree from the University of Pittsburgh and is licensed in both general and special education. Her general education licensure was obtained from the University of Colorado, Boulder and her special education license and master’s degree in special education is from the University of Northern Colorado. She also has a board certification as a Behavior Analyst (BCBA) from the University of Colorado, Denver.
“I moved to Colorado after graduating from the University of Pittsburgh with a BA and I hold a license in both general and special education. I lived in Boulder for 9 years at which time I received my General Education license, before moving to Fort Collins with the intention of being an Elementary Education teacher.
I joined the team at O’Dea as a paraprofessional in the autism program simply to “get my foot in the door” in PSD and fell in love with students with autism spectrum disorder and the amazing educational programming that we provide to that population in our district. I worked there for 2 years while going back to school for my Master’s degree and Special Education license. I moved to Bacon Elementary to open the 2nd site-based program for kiddos with autism in our district. I have been at Bacon ever since (about 11 years).
I live in Poudre Canyon with my husband, Kevin; daughter, Molly; and Grady (our black lab). My daughter is currently a kindergarten student at CLPE. I love teaching and look forward to working with the kids each day. Being a parent of a student in this district, I want my child to have a teacher who sees her strengths, works through her challenges…and continues to cheer her on no matter what the days or lessons might bring. As a teacher, I try to be that for my students and their families. As Applied Behavior Analysis is considered best practice for providing services for kiddos with autism, I received my board certification as a behavior analyst, to continue to grow as an educator. I also have a passion for behavior in general and helping kiddos with that obstacle in particular, when/if it may present as one. In addition teaching at Bacon, I also do some behavior consulting in various schools and programs throughout the district.”
“Jill is an active member of a student team, with a focus on growth and independence.” (Erin Coy, Integrated Service coach)
Poudre School District Integrated Services Director: Sarah Belleau 2407 Laporte Avenue, Fort Collins, CO 80521