Special education faces difficulties during pandemic; BRAAC educators rise to the challenge

Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 4:31 AM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - COVID’s effect on education has been significant. And for those working in special education, the impact was even greater.

Like all educators, the teachers at the Blue Ridge Autism and Achievement Center have taken the challenges in stride. But because their students have unique needs and abilities, it’s been a difficult past 19 months.

“Our students are not typical learners,” Bethan Mezureck, the special education director at BRAAC, said. “They need very direct, intensive instruction and that requires face-to-face, multi-sensory approach to learning.”

She described just how much of a barrier screens and face masks can be for some of their students.

“A lot of what our students are learning are language protocols,” Mazurek said. “And so for us to try to teach language and articulation and for them to learn facial expressions and how to read different cues in conversation is very difficult for our students.”

But like all educators, those at BRAAC have done what they could to provide for their students.

“We recreated things and redid the way we do things and just kept on serving them,” CEO Angie Leonard said.

And through it all, they learned just how adaptable and resilient their students really are.

“While they are very routine-oriented and there are definitely things that help them thrive in these types of situations, they are more flexible than I think we’ve ever given them credit for before,” Mazurek said.

“We are able to see our kids grow even in the midst of a pandemic, which is super positive that they’re continuing to make progress and do great things,” Leonard said.

And like so many businesses and organizations, BRAAC is in need of qualified educators who are willing to work with and love their students. Go to the BRAAC website to see what positions are hiring.

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