L.I.S.D. Teacher Wins Regional 'Special Educator of the Year' Award

A Lufkin instructor has been named 'Special Education Teacher of the Year' for Region 7. Stacy Holcomb has been teaching for nearly 30 years. She is a special education instructor for Lufkin High School.

Holcomb received her award Thursday at a ceremony in Kilgore. It is the first time any teacher in the Lufkin district has received the honor.

Central High School Life Skills teacher Debbie Curry's been educating students for 17 years. During the school day, her kids are reading, writing, cooking, and learning many other skills needed in the real world. But they are special needs students and Curry encourages future educators to take on the challenge of working with kids like them.

"My goal is that the day after graduation for my students looks just like the day before, so that whatever I've trained them to do, they're ready to go out into the world and do that particular activity," Curry said.

Curry said a lot of college students are minoring in special education instead of majoring in the field. Rewarding and challenging is how she describes her job, especially when she gets to see them succeed.

One of her students will be participating in the World Special Olympics in China next fall. Jessica Clopp is a track and field, basketball, golf, volleyball, bowling and gymnastics competitor.

"I like to dance and it's real fun for me to meet new people and Special Olympics helps me a lot," said Clopp, a junior.

But there are disadvantages to teaching students with special needs. Their behavior can sometimes be unpredictable, but Curry said they cause problems less often than people think.

"Those issues do come up rarely with students, but if you're meeting a student where their needs need to be met, you usually don't have issues of behavioral problems like that," Curry said. "A student will act out when they can't do the work and if you present the work in a way that they can understand and benefit from it, then you usually don't have problems like that."

A lot of students with mental and developmental problems take classes with kids in the general population. Many of them also take part in extracurricular activities and go on to attend college successfully.

Special needs children take the TAKS exam just like students in the general school population. State law requires educators to teach them until they turn 21 years old.