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Teacher Spotlight: Penny Corter


1. What moved your career path from accounting to education? And special education to, more specifically, a learning consultant?

I had graduated with an education degree the first time I went to college, and there weren’t any jobs, so I worked in the accounting field for a consulting firm. I taught a lot of executives, ran a training center, and always wanted to return to teaching. My first certification was elementary, but the market was flooded with teachers and hard to find a position (in the 80s). My kids were little, and I went back to school for my master’s program. I started teaching science and history here, and then when the other consultant retired, I took his place.

2. What is a typical day like for you as a learning consultant?

A little chaotic, very busy, and you never know what’s gonna come up. We do IEP meetings and evaluate students (spend time testing students and writing reports) who get in trouble in class or don’t do their work. These students come here for a variety of mental health/emotional issues.

3. What kinds of students do you guide through Wayne Valley’s curriculum?

Some are general education with two teachers, some kids are in all AP and Enriched classes, other kids are really learning-language-support kids, and there are also young adults downstairs. These students are in 9th grade through age 21.

4. How do you feel about gaining recognition for this outstanding achievement?

I’m flattered because there are so many deserving teachers here at Valley that it was very unexpected, and I’m proud to represent special education because sometimes on the side a few child study team members were recognized.

5. What is a memorable moment from your teaching career?

Whenever kids are successful. I love graduation because sometimes you’re pulling kids to the path of graduation, so it’s a very special event. And whenever kids come and ask for help. We joke around in here that when they’re struggling, we will help with everything but math!

6. How do you continue to grow as an educator, even after winning this award?

Professional development, trying to keep up on new things that are out there, like a student-centered approach. I thought about taking another master’s degree and another supervisor/administrator program, but I’m not sure. It’s expensive, so I don’t know if I would get my money’s worth. Won’t help with financial growth. 

7. What is the “student-centered” approach you follow?

Interview kids and find out what they want to do, and parents too. If I’m going to have an IEP meeting, parents would fill out a form about strengths and weaknesses, what the student likes to do, and if they like school. We take that information and apply it to our program. We’re limited, as we only have so many programs, but we try to be as creative as possible. There are limitations for what we can allow you to do based on resources in our area and our school. We have a culinary program, auto program, and dual enrollment classes, also for special education students. If they want to go to college, it helps get their feet wet. Feedback says it has been helpful.

8. What degrees and/or certifications do you hold in education?

Elementary cert and special education cert bachelor’s in psychology and master’s as a learning consultant.

9. Anything else you would like to share for the article?

Wayne Valley is my place. I’ve had a few short jobs before this, but I’ve been at Wayne Valley since 2005. Even changing positions, I’ve remained here. I hope to continue to remain here. 

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About the Contributor
Alyssa Montero, Specialty Editor
Alyssa is a senior Specialty Editor that focuses on highlighting the diversity of interests within our school, specifically music. Her happy place would be in a cozy treehouse with a good book in hand, and she hopes to become a speech pathologist in the future!

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