I’m Thankful For You: My Teaching Mentor

(Editor’s Note: This article was provided by Alayna Ferrell and is part of Cooper’s, ‘I’m Thankful For You’ Campaign.)

This December I want to honor and thank Emily Sirico, a Special Education Teacher. Emily Sirico is not just a teacher to her students, she is their friend.

My senior year of high school (2016-2017), I had the opportunity to job shadow a teacher. Since I was little I always knew that is what I wanted to be. The school guidance counselor sent me to Ms. Sirico’s special needs class for the day. From the moment I walked in to the time I laid down to go to sleep that night I had a smile on my face. After that, everyday you could find me in Ms. Sirico’s classroom.

Emily Sirico is not just a teacher to her students, she is their friend. She knows everything about every one of her students and when something is “off” with them. She has a club in the school called Club Unify. Students in the club go in her room during lunch or their break between classes and just hang out with her students. All of her students have a “buddy” and all the buddies would go on their field trips. It wasn’t an after school program or extra curricular activity, we were all friends. Club Unify was all about the inclusion of her students.

I’ve been told by her students’ parents about what school and life in general was like before she started teaching their children. A boy with Down Syndrome never talked. He could, but he didn’t. Now he talks all the time. Ms. Sirico fought for her students too. Now they can go to gym and art and even lunch with other students.

Emily Sirico not only changed her students’ lives, she changed mine. I just turned 19 and I am a freshman in college and currently majoring in Special Education. My goal is to get my degree in Special Education and then continue my education and become a BCBA, which is the certificate for an ABA therapist.

One of my other buddies in Club Unify was a sweet boy with Down Syndrome. Although I have graduated and now have a job and go to school, my boyfriend and I see him as much as possible. We have become very close with his family and he has become one of our best friends. I am from a small town called Chester, SC. I also have a family friend with an autistic son. She is the one who introduced me to Finding Cooper’s Voice. I read everything you post and watch every video in hopes of broadening my knowledge and advocacy skills for the future. Thank you so much for sharing my story! I love your stories and pray to one day see a video of Cooper talking!

I hope when I start teaching I can be half the teacher, advocate, and friend that she is for her students!


You can still nominate the doctors, therapists, teachers, friends and family that make a difference in your special needs world. Click HERE to learn how!

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Finding Cooper's Voice is a safe, humorous, caring and honest place where you can celebrate the unique challenges of parenting a special needs child. Because you're never alone in the struggles you face. And once you find your people, your allies, your village....all the challenges and struggles will seem just a little bit easier. Welcome to my page!

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When my son was first diagnosed with autism no one was talking about it. Autism was hidden. I vow to change that.
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