ALTOONA, Iowa — In an elementary school packed with 600 students, you won’t find many quiet spaces. However, Stacey Cochran’s room is quiet on this particular day. Throughout the school day she often spends one – on – one time with students needing a little extra help.
“My program is one that we don`t like to draw a lot of attention to…working with special needs kids they don`t always like to be in the spotlight,” she says.
Cochran has a way of bringing students with behavioral and cognitive needs at Clay Elementary School out of the dark so that they can shine.
“I have a lot of kids who come in everyday who are pretty down on themselves and so first thing in the morning we are hugging, high – fiving and talking about anything they may be upset about.”
Jessica Bensley’s son, Donnie, has been a student of Cochran’s for three years. Bensley says school has always been a struggle.
“My son has been in here since second grade and when my son moved over here he really down-deep thought he was stupid,” she says.
Now, she says her son is changed and is excited about going to school.
“Mrs. Cochran made my son have the willingness to learn. Have the ability to be educated and want to be taught how to become something one day. He used not have that desire. My son has dreams today.”
Cochran says she dedicates all her spare time towards making sure her students always have the help they need, so they can shine long after they leave her classroom.
“These are somebody’s kids. How I would want my kids to be treated in school. I think about that a lot. This is somebody’s child and I’m going to take care of them while I’m here.”