After 10 years serving as Director of Exceptional Student Education with Monongalia County Schools and 20 years as an educator, Tiffany Barnett said her entire educational career has been dedicated to special education.
“A career in education was a natural step in my life. I have always enjoyed working with children and was inspired by some amazing teachers throughout my own schooling,” Barnett said. “Special education is a vital component of our education system. We see increased students with academic, adaptive, behavioral and social-emotional needs. The ability to provide a free, appropriate public education to all students is what makes public education so phenomenal.”
As an alumni of education programs at both Fairmont State and West Virginia University, Barnett began her teaching career as a middle school teacher working with students with specific learning disabilities, emotional behavioral disorders, and mild intellectual disabilities at Suncrest Middle School.
“While teaching at Suncrest Middle School, I identified areas in which I was passionate about and re-enrolled at West Virginia University to take courses in reading and to obtain my administrative certification. After seven years at Suncrest Middle School, I transitioned out of the classroom to a role as a Special Education Instructional Coach in Monongalia County. This gave me the opportunity to share my expertise in providing specially designed instruction and reading with elementary special education teachers and work to help the county develop a model for implementation of Response to Intervention.”
Barnett, who has worked with the county’s Deputy Superintendent to expand instructional and compliance supports to both staff and parents, shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
“As Director of Exceptional Student Education, I have committed to providing special education services to students in their homeschool setting to the maximum extent possible. Since beginning my tenure as director, I have opened seven pre-school special needs classrooms dedicated to meeting the needs of students with autism; four autism classrooms; and one severe and profound classroom.
She said in response to the increasingly dangerous behaviors of students because of the opioid crisis, she also developed, implemented and currently oversees an alternative education program for both general education and special education students in grades pre-school through 5th grade.
“I am very interested in behavior, and I am passionate about this alternative programming and working to shape student behaviors to be managed within the traditional school setting.”
Like many educators who have worked as an administrator, Barnett said she believes the state’s special education programs and initiatives are so successful, primarily because of our teachers.
“Special education teachers in Monongalia County and throughout the state are deeply dedicated to their students. They want their students to be successful, and they work hard to meet each child’s academic, adaptive, and social/emotional needs. Special education teachers are extremely resourceful and flexible. They work countless hours to problem solve and research instructional strategies that meet the needs of their students. These are key components to creating and sustaining successful programs.”