Copperas Cove Independent School District Rookie Teacher of the Year Kimberly Barham is ready to meet her new students Aug. 15 when school officially begins. The kindergarten through fifth-grade special education teacher is in her second year of teaching and returns to Clements/Parsons Elementary School.
Barham teaches students with low-incidence disabilities. Her classroom has students who are primarily nonverbal and tend to exhibit violent behavior.
Jimmy Shuck, who was Barham’s school principal, said the new teacher created a classroom that comforted students so they could focus on academics.
“Mrs. Barham has developed a classroom environment in which students are communicating with Pic Boards, sign language, and speaking in one to two word phrases,” Shuck said. “During the previous year, students in this class had significant behavior outbursts. In the last school year under Mrs. Barham, the number of outbursts have been drastically reduced.
“Students receive individual instruction based on their needs. All students in Mrs. Barham’s class have mastered their goals and objectives and had to have new ones developed. She continues to challenge her students by making appropriately ambitious goals,” Shuck said. “She ensures she works with all students and guides her paraprofessionals to ensure students are receiving a quality educational experience even when she is not working with them directly.”
Although new to teaching, Barham stepped into the role of lead special education teacher at the school. Barham’s knowledge and expertise has been invaluable as she professionally handled many changes and challenges within her department last year.
“She communicates effectively with her team of teachers and paraprofessionals as well as regular education staff,” Shuck said. “Mrs. Barham continues to seek new ideas and continually researches ways to improve her practice.”
Interventionist Sheila Wright served as Barham’s mentor teacher last school year.
“Her love for children is evident every day as she works diligently with her team members at Clements/Parsons Elementary, to provide a safe and nurturing environment for her students,” Wright said. “Since she has a unique set of students, with a wide range of abilities, Mrs. Barham works tirelessly to incorporate activities to build their fine and gross motor skills, as well as, their communication skills. When faced with challenging situations, she is always patient and kind. She is flexible, collaborative and willing to share her ideas.”
Shuck said students are just as eager to get back to school to see Barham as she is to see them. “Her students are excited to see her every day. She greets them every day as if they are her own kids.”