It took one experience with a deaf cheerleading squad for Dr. April Workman to know what she was meant to do.
“I come from a family of educators. My mother and my aunts are all teachers, so I believe they were influential in my career path. However, the decision of what to teach was not an easy one for me. I was never drawn to one subject or content area enough to teach it all day in a secondary setting, and I wasn’t sure that a classroom full of youngsters in an elementary setting was what I wanted either. Then, I was introduced to a deaf cheerleading squad at a camp one year. I was so interested in how they communicated and interacted. I knew then that this was what I wanted to do!”
A special education teacher for 24 years, Dr. Workman serves as the autism teacher at Glenwood School in Mercer County. With a background in both deaf education and special education, she said she loves everything about teaching students with autism.
“I love the fact that I can teach the same students for several years. This allows me to watch them grow and mature. I get to see them take baby steps that turn into giant leaps by the time they leave my school. I watch them develop into strong young men and women who learn to advocate for themselves and to teach others about acceptance. Every one of my students share similar characteristics, but yet they are so different. Each day presents a new challenge, whether it is finding out what they are trying to communicate or helping them learn how to play with a classmate. There is never a dull moment.”
After spending many years in the classroom, Dr. Workman said she believes the teacher is the most contributing factor to the success of an educational organization.
“Children should be inspired by teachers to work to their full potential. In my experience in the West Virginia Public school system, it is the educators themselves that make the system a success. I am inspired by my coworkers daily. We have many opportunities throughout our school year to learn different instructional practices and apply them in our classrooms. Having teachers who never stop learning is what makes West Virginia schools successful. Rewarding teachers for their own achievements and recognizing their dedication and passion is what makes them want to be better. Having highly qualified and dedicated educators that parents can trust is what makes the West Virginia school system so successful!”
Dr. Workman earned her undergraduate degree in deaf education from Barton College in 1997, and then continued to finish her master’s degree in special education and educational leadership. After earning her autism certificate, she decided to pursue her Ph.D. in Special Education/Curriculum and Instruction from Virginia Tech.
“I have never wanted to leave the classroom. Teaching students with disabilities was not a ‘calling’ for me. I discovered that it was what I wanted to do. I think that is why I enjoy it so much, and why I want to help my students learn to make their own discoveries in life.”