Since high school, Ally Sanderbeck has had a passion for helping children with special needs. Through her work volunteering with The Miracle League, an organization that provides the opportunity for children with mental and physical disabilities to play baseball, Sanderbeck became convinced that education was the right career path for her.
“I just had the best time working with these kids,” Sanderbeck said. “It was so much fun and I decided that maybe I would enjoy working with them in the classroom as well.”
In addition to the volunteering experiences that allowed her to work with children, Sanderbeck cites the impact of her past teachers in shaping her decision to become an educator.
“I had just the best teachers in elementary school, and I had one teacher who I’ve always stayed in touch with,” Sanderbeck said. “I decided that I wanted to be a teacher like she was and have an impact on my students the way that she did with me.”
Today, Sanderbeck is in the midst of her final year of CEHS’ five-year teaching program as an elementary education major with a special education endorsement. This semester, she is working as a student teacher in a third-grade classroom at East Dale Elementary School in Fairmont, W.Va.
“I’ve just loved it,” Sanderbeck said. “I’ve loved being in the classroom, so I feel like it was a great choice for me.”
Outside of her busy student-teaching schedule, Sanderbeck has continued to pursue her passion for students with special needs. As president of WVU’s student chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), Sanderbeck coordinates fundraising and volunteer opportunities with organizations like the Special Olympics.
“I’ve really liked the volunteering and working with people in the Morgantown community,” Sanderbeck said. “I’ve also really enjoyed working with the rest of the members of CEC, just getting to know other teachers and people who also are passionate about working with kids with special needs.”
Each year, the CEC sends CEHS student members to the West Virginia Council for Exceptional Children Conference, where they participate in professional development opportunities and network with other special education professionals.
“It’s a really good opportunity for us,” Sanderbeck said. “I’ve gone two years now, and I’ve learned a lot about special education, which was awesome.”
Through her work with the CEC and her coursework in special education, Sanderbeck has benefited from the mentorship of Dr. Melissa Hartley, the faculty adviser for CEC and an associate professor in the Department of Special Education.
“She’s such a good role model and an amazing special education teacher, Sanderbeck said. “Her classes have been extremely helpful to me. She’s a great person to talk to when I have questions about what’s going on in my school.”
For students looking to enroll at CEHS, Sanderbeck shared this piece of advice:
“I’ve gotten such a great education here. I would say work hard, be organized, and be willing to put the time in because it’s so rewarding to get to work in this profession."