BULLHEAD CITY — Kate Hall says she has always felt at home working with children.
As a Mohave High School student, Hall worked at the Boys & Girls Club of the Colorado River, and she’s now a special education teacher at Desert Valley Elementary School.
Hall said she enjoys her particular role as an educator.
“I like being able to help students who need a little extra encouragement,” she said.
Hall’s classroom operates differently than do general education classes. There is, for example, a lot of one-on-one and small-group instruction.
She said she tries to find the best learning process for each child and help all reach their potential.
Hall also helps students work on basic and social skills.
“Kids tend to get frustrated easily,” she said. “We work on the frustration and help them maintain confidence in their own abilities.”
She said that her students are sometimes labeled as “can’t-do” kids, who present different challenges than students who won’t do the tasks they’re ask to. Hall said that teaching special education presents its own rewards.
“You see the smiles on their faces when they finally understand a concept they’ve been working so hard on,” she said.
She said the children’s small victories — such as making new friends or overcoming a once-challenging obstacle — are also hers.
Hall works with paraprofessionals Ashley Mlekush, Stephanie Perez and Alex Casteneda.
Hall initially taught third and then fourth grade when she came to Desert Valley. She said she switched to special education after noticing the need for such teachers in the area.
“It’s the best decision I have ever made,” she said. “I feel like this is where I’m supposed to be. I enjoy it. Every day is different and comes with its own set of challenges.”
Children with special needs need consistency, Hall said.
“I knew I could give it to them,” she said. “My children are still in school here. I’m not going anywhere.”
“I definitely could not do this job without my paras,” Hall said. “It takes this whole team to be able to do it.” Hall teaches grades 2-4, and typically has one grade level in her classroom at a time. She also has six students who are on self-contained education programs and are with her most of the day.
Special education covers children with a range of conditions, including learning disabilities, autism and intellectual disabilities.
“We’re working really hard on filling in the gaps needed for the students to be successful on state testing,” Hall said.
In addition to her teaching duties, Hall coordinates Desert Valley’s spelling bees and science fairs; she also is involved in after-school tutoring and is on the teacher assistance team, which helps struggling students.
“I try to help wherever I can,” she said.
She said she thinks of Desert Valley as her second home.
“We have such a good group of people here,” Hall said.
She’s one of those people, Mlekush said.
“She’s the best mentor ever,” Mlekush said of Hall. “She’s very intelligent on the special education program. She’s seen a lot, so if I have questions about a child with a disability, she always knows.”
Third-grader Juan Penaloza and fourth-grader Isaiah Corona said Hall is nice and makes school fun.
“Mrs. Hall is an amazing teacher who can take students who are struggling and bring them up to grade level,” Principal Sandra Brown said. “She’s very passionate about what she does.”
Brown credits Hall with putting the school’s life-skills program on more solid footing.
“She works hand-in-hand with general education teachers to make sure that our students get a quality education,” Brown said.