New Teacher Jennifer Barry Finds Her Place Teaching Special Education


Credit to Chloe Horstman

By Chloe Horstman

Tucked away in room one, Jennifer Barry settles in to prepare for the tasks the day has at hand, including loads of paperwork and meetings to schedule, which will run well past her normal hours here at North.  Even though her newfound teaching position comes with daunting duties, Barry looks forward to the rest of the school year, because she knows she has found her love working in Special Education. 


After graduating from Fontbonne University, Barry knew that she wanted to work within the Francis Howell district, and became a para for five years at Heritage Landing and Harvest Ridge Elementary. There, she enjoyed making the connections with the students she worked with.


“I chose Special Education after working at Heritage Landing here because it was just a part of the education field that I felt I really connected with and enjoyed being with those students in a smaller group setting,” Barry said. “I feel like in Special Ed I have that opportunity to make a little bit closer connection with them.”


Barry applied to several school positions in Special Education, and went through multiple different interviews and a nerve wracking waiting process before being offered a position at North, where she felt welcomed and thrilled to be working with high school students.


I had met several people from North in the past through trainings in the district or being part of the sanctuary program, so there were a couple familiar faces,” Barry said. “I was just really excited to also be working with high school age students. They made me feel like I belong as soon as I stepped in the door.”


During her classes, Barry helps her students learn essential skills and works with them individually to prepare them for the future. Senior Maddie Rowe enjoys having Barry for Knight Time and English, where she is met with helpful attention with school work.


“She’s cool…very nice and funny in a good way,” Rowe said. “She helps me if I’m stuck on a problem in english, she helps me with that. If I’m having a hard time writing, she helps me with that.” 


While much time is spent working through english problems, math, and other academic subjects, Barry focuses on building relationships as well.


I hope they know how much I care about them outside of academics,” Barry said. “It’s not just all about academics, I like to get to know them as people, what are their likes and dislikes, what do they like outside of school. I think it’s important to connect with them, and that only helps with the academic part. I feel if we have a good relationship I find it easier to motivate them when it comes to the academics.”