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Joni Howe – Butterfield Canyon Elementary School

It has been said that it takes someone special to be a teacher. I say that it takes an angel to be a special needs teacher. Only angels can work miracles and that is what Mrs. Howe has done for her class this year. Mrs. Howe teaches the Autism Cluster class and is my son Alex’s 2nd grade teacher. Each year has been a struggle for our Alex. We never thought he would learn the basics reading, writing, and math. I know I was not the only parent concerned about their child with Autism either. Classrooms can be chaotic with so many behavior issues. When we met Mrs. Howe at the beginning of the year my husband and I were so impressed by her plan to make the environment structured and her excitement to have our son learn. She had done her homework and knew exactly what our son needed before I even said anything. For example Alex is very into ceiling fans and Mrs. Howe had created a behavior chart having him earn pieces of a ceiling fan puzzle throughout the day to build a ceiling fan. This kept Alex focused on his work which is HUGE. Alex is now reading, loves math and writing. He can tell time and can count money which is a huge bonus. These may seem like small strides to some, but to me these are things I never thought would happen. Mrs. Howe really cares about her kids. She has created a bond with each child and knows what each one needs. Mrs. Howe has created a stable environment and each child in her class is excelling and making huge strides. She deserves to be praised for helping our kids love school and learn. She will forever be my angel and miracle worker for Alex.

–Melissa Jaffa