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Special education teacher retiring after this school year

Spring Valley Elementary School special education teacher Alice Monett said she will retire at the end of this school year after almost 29 years of service at the school. Sara Tischauser / RiverTown Multimedia

After almost 29 years of teaching special education at Spring Valley Elementary School, Alice Monett will retire after this school year, but said she plans to stay involved with the school going forward.

Monett started her teaching career working at both River Falls and Ellsworth school districts. At that time, a River Falls elementary school guidance counselor told her that if she wanted to have her pick of full-time positions she should take a special education course. So Monett became licensed in special education.

Monett, who is originally from Menomonie, said when the full-time special education teacher position became available at Spring Valley she took the job. Special education has been enjoyable for her.

"I just found I was passionate about working with special education kids," Monett said.

Special education, Monett said, is understanding that not all children learn the same way and finding how to help students understand and learn information.

"I just have the belief that all children can learn even though they learn differently," Monett said. "And just gratification when together you find a way that works for them [to learn]."

Through trial and error and using different modifications and strategies, Monett said she can help a student learn while building the student's self confidence.

"A lot of trial and error, which things work, and a lot of figuring out where deficit areas are," Monett said. "Once you do that [figure out deficit areas] those are the skills special education likes to target. Encouraging [students'] strengths too all helps build on the self esteem."

Building a positive relationship with students is one aspect Monett enjoys as a special education teacher.

"That's one of the things I do love, you work so closely one-on-one with the kids, build a relationship with them," Monett said. "Makes it a lot of fun. I have closer relations than other teachers who have so many students."

Through special education, Monett said the goal is to help students improve their skills and be part of regular classrooms.

"We try to place the students in a least restrictive environment and try to get with their same age peers if possible, that's the end goal," Monett said. "The goal is to increase skills they need to function in regular education classrooms."

While Monett said she will not miss all the paperwork ( the only drawback she cited to special education) she will definitely miss the interaction with the adults and children.

"I will definitely miss the children and the staff at Spring Valley," Monett said. "They [the staff] have really been a family. Lots of good friendships."

Monett is looking forward to spending more time with her family and grandchildren when she retires, but plans to stay involved with the school.

"I do have some plans to stay active whether volunteering or subbing," Monett said. "I'm not just going to totally cut the strings."