Encouraged by her grandmother to apply to BYU, Mallory Poole earned a bachelor's degree in special education with a minor in TESOL, and continues the family legacy of teaching.
My Professional Journey
Prior to graduating I had several job offers from surrounding districts. I joined Vineyard Elementary in 2009 as a resource teacher for special education for kindergarten through sixth grade.
After three years of learning, celebrating, and networking, I was asked to teach a small special education class at Orchard Elementary. I continue to love working with students. While teaching full time, I earned a master’s of education in special education and administrative licensure from Utah State University. I have also continued to further my involvement in the special education field by serving on the State of Utah Special Education Advisory Panel and on the Orchard School Community Council and technology committee, and by acting as Utah PTA Disability Advocate.
I have been honored to teach and learn from wonderful students. Throughout my career, I have worked in five different classrooms in two schools, even teaching from a modified closet. I have co-taught and monitored students in more than 35 general education classrooms; trained and worked with 14 paraeducators; and collaborated with hundreds of other teachers to better meet student needs.
Choice to Attend BYU
I liked the idea of pursuing a degree in business because it would be [reliable] and marketable. However, during my senior year of high school I realized my calling in life was to become a teacher. By becoming a teacher, I would be a fourth-generation educator.
While I was growing up I would go with my grandmother to run her errands. Every time we were out together, someone would approach my grandma and thank her for her caring service and impact on their life. She had been their school counselor. Even in her nineties my grandma always knew each person by name. The person would describe a specific instance when my grandma had taken the time to listen and help him or her. I hoped to carry on her legacy of inspiring students.
Choice of Special Education
People often ask why I chose special education. I knew when I chose to be a teacher that special education was the field I would work in. When I was growing up I was blessed to have a wonderful best friend and spend a lot of my childhood at her home. Her younger brother was diagnosed with severe autism, and he was easily agitated and could not communicate. I remember many different things this family did to try to help him. He spent most of his days watching and rewinding specific Disney movies. I think he wore out the play and rewind buttons on over 10 machines before he was eight years old.
When I was older, I realized the sacrifices the family had made to accommodate his needs, and I wanted to do anything I could to help families like theirs. They never had time off from being responsible for such a sweet but very difficult child. I thought by becoming a special education teacher I could help families for at least a few hours of the day.
Influence of the McKay School
I feel grateful for the opportunity I had to be part of the McKay School of Education. While attending the university I learned from my professors’ examples by being part of professional organizations such as the Council for Exceptional Children. These extracurricular experiences helped enhance the high quality education I was receiving.
The professors were knowledgeable about many areas of special education, and I learned various strategies for behavior management. I was taught about the human brain, [including] why we utilize different techniques and teaching strategies. I also learned about assessments and using research-based materials in my teaching plans.
Overall, I felt very prepared entering the profession, especially with the continued education I have had. The professors in the special education department at BYU are among the best. BYU’s motto “Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve” continues to influence my life because I am blessed to learn and serve every day throughout my career.
Earning a master’s degree has been a life goal that I have accomplished. I have published some of my research as a creative project in training educators on research-based strategies to teach and better meet the needs of struggling learners from diverse backgrounds. But I feel that my greatest success story is seeing the progress of my students. Though the progress is often minimal when compared to mainstream educators, I love celebrating any progress of my students. It is crucial to help all students feel successful.
Some of my favorite memories of teaching come from seeing the joy that lights up a child’s face when he or she has read a book correctly for the very first time. I have a motto in my class, “Learning is a Treasure!” I love teaching and the feeling I get when my students arrive each morning.
2009 BYU Bachelor of Science in Special Education, minor in teaching English to students of other languages (TESOL)
2013 USU Master’s Degree in Special Education and Administrative Licensure