Pat Homberg said her career in special education has been both challenging and rewarding, and she would encourage anyone entering education to consider the field of special education.
“Special educators and general educators work together for all students. Special educators want to improve the lives and the future of the students they teach and are constantly working to improve their craft,” Homberg said. “It is important that all students have access to the general education curriculum. Special education provides that access through accommodations and modifications to the curriculum, assistive technology, related services, and accessible educational materials.”
As someone who has been both an educator and administrator, Homberg said she recognizes what makes West Virginia’s special education programs so successful: the people. She said our WVDE and local education agencies (LEAs) do many things to ensure initiatives are carried out effectively by:
- Promoting professional learning for administrators, teachers, and support staff;
- Emphasizing the importance of graduating from high school and transitioning to post-secondary education, the military, or community employment;
- Focusing on the West Virginia College and Career Readiness Standards or West Virginia Alternate Academic Achievement Standards;
- Utilizing the West Virginia Online Individualized Education Program (IEP);
- Utilizing the Transition Technical Assistance Center (TTAC), and Behavior/Mental Health Technical Assistance Center (B/MH TAC) and will use the new WV Statewide Technical Assistance Center;
- And promoting successful engagement of families and educational staff.
Homberg noted, “When I was planning post-secondary education there were three pathways open – secretary, nurse, and teacher. I chose teacher. Education opened a great career path for me. My first teaching position was first grade. In that classroom, there were students that were unable to learn in the same way or at the same pace as their classmates. I began taking special education graduate classes to learn strategies to teach those students and became a special educator.”
As Superintendent of Schools for the Deaf and the Blind, Homberg has extensive experience in the area of special education. She was a general and special education teacher in Kanawha and Cabell counties; a Regional Education Service Agency Special Education Specialist in RESA III serving Boone, Clay, Kanawha, and Putnam Counties; a Coordinator of Low Incidence Programs (including deaf/hard of hearing, blind/visually impaired) in Kanawha County Schools; the Director of Exceptional Education in Putnam County Schools; and Adjunct Professor of special education at Marshall University. She served as the Executive Director of the Office of Special Education at the West Virginia Department of Education from 2010 to 2018. Since retiring in 2018, she has been a Family Engagement Specialist, West Virginia Family Engagement Center, EdVenture Group, Inc., and Technical Assistance Support Coordinator for the WVDE Office of Special Education.