Teacher of the Year recipient highlights importance of special education


Staff photo by Maddie Policastro

Teacher of the Year, Ms Craig Derrow, questions the class about their latest lesson.

Erin Sockolof, Editor-in-Chief

Whether you need help with schoolwork or someone to talk to, Teacher of the Year Craig Derrow has your back. She has stood out from the crowd of staff at Wakefield High School ever since she began working there in 2013. But she’s not in special education for the awards; she’s in the field for her students.

“I was totally blown away,” Derrow said. “I never in a million years thought that I would be [nominated] because I see so many other amazing teachers here in the Wakefield community.”

Shortly after Derrow found out she was nominated to be Teacher of the Year, some very special visitors came to her classroom.

“One day I was teaching, and I get this knock on the door [so] I open it, and there’s Ms. Keefer with a bouquet of flowers and the rest of the admin team,” Derrow said. “ It took me a minute, and then I just started [crying].” 

Derrow won this award because her colleagues recognized the hard work she has done and will continue to do in the field of special education. Every day she shares her positivity and kindness with her students and coworkers.

She brings out abilities the students didn’t know they had.

— Breymaier

Derrow’s students can attest to her attitude in class and as a person in general. They truly believe she deserves to be honored with this award.

A senior who takes an English class with Derrow reflects on his bond with her.

“She’s one of the nicest teachers, one of the best second moms in the school and she shows everyone respect,” the senior said.

This senior is far from the only one of Derrow’s students to have this perspective. Some of her other students sing the same praises. 

“She’s a hard worker [and] shes gives [off] a good vibe,” another one of Derrow’s students, said. “She is very open to students.”

It’s not just her students who see her like this though. Fellow Wakefield High School teachers also view Derrow in the same light. 

Lisbeth Breymaier is a special education teacher and instructs her students right down the hall from Derrow’s classroom.

“Craig goes above and beyond for each one of her students,” Breymaier said. “Her students know they can go to her with any issues or concerns they have, and she will take the time to listen to them.” 

Craig Derrow is a special education teacher at Wakefield High School who won Teacher of the Year for her outstanding work. (Photo Courtesy of Craig Derrow)

Derrow’s students aren’t just students to her. Not only does she brighten their days, but she grasps a unique perspective on people with special needs. She sees her students for who they are as people and is able to take a look into who they could become.

“Ms. Derrow believes her students are capable of so much more than they believe they are,” Breymaier said. “She brings out abilities the students didn’t know they had.”

Every day Derrow comes to school with a glowing attitude that’s infectious to her students. She shows them the difference a positive attitude can make and teaches them so much more than what the school’s curriculum requires. Her students learn about the intricacies of life and how to navigate them.

Being an educator for special needs and disabled high school students is not a job for everybody. Regardless, Derrow’s students show so much positivity when it comes to what makes them unique.

“We’re all equal. People have different brains, and people think in different ways. Not everybody’s the same,” Derrow’s senior student said. “ Just because you’re in a certain program or you’re in a different room, that doesn’t mean anything. We’re all in this same building, we’re all getting our education, and we’re all going to go on different paths.”