Mrs. Nicoletti and the Special Education Program


Mrs. Nicoletti and Duck posing in the 1800 hallway.

Most people think that heroes are best illustrated by comic book characters wearing tight bright spandex and colorful capes, but everyone knows that oh-so-famous saying, “not all heroes wear capes”. Mrs.Nicoletti at Lambert High is a perfect example of a hero that does not wear a cape. Mrs.Nicoletti truly has a passion for teaching and works to improve the learning environment at Lambert.

She had told us that she had always had the idea of teaching; ever since she was little when she had a good friend who was mentally inhibited she has wanted to help others with learning disabilities as well.

 As she said, “And while I wasn’t sure it was my interest, I was certified in it,” Mrs. Nicoletti said. “I got my bachelor’s in it. But once I started doing this, I fell in love with it.”

Her love for teaching is what distinguishes her from the rest of the crowd. To Mrs. Nicoletti, her job is not just a regular nine-to-five but it is her way to help the students excel at Lambert High.

Mrs. Nicoletti helped us understand that the depth of specialized classrooms goes far beyond the idea of a general education program and a special education program. The expanse of special education spans through types of learning between individual students, just like the ways general education students learn through mediums of kinetic, visual, and auditory learning. The idea behind the special education program is parallel to those mediums to support students on a learner-based need, whether it is helping a student with a language disorder or providing new perspectives and ways to learn for a student with a learning disability.

When approached with the subject of how she prepares her students for a life outside the classroom you could clearly see a passion in helping her students.

She told us, “So part of that is to address vocational skills,” Mrs. Nicoletti said, “So which would be job-based skills, and social skills and daily living skills, like budgeting and paying with money and following directions like they’d have a job.”

Even beyond the basic philosophy of Mrs. Nicoletti’s teaching, a significant factor in the learning processes and capabilities of students relies on peer interaction. This basic philosophical concept is most easily described through the idea of inclusion. 

Mrs. Nicoletti helps her students through this idea by two means: the first being the peer facilitation program, and the second being her co-class sessions between general education and special education classes. The peer facilitation program is an elective that has general education students help with Mrs. Nicoletti’s class (as well as all the other specialized classrooms), from assisting the specialized students to leading classes. She told us that oftentimes the general education students involved in peer facilitation end up learning more from her students than they thought they were going to.

The co-classes with general education are a second means of helping her students and the students of general education. These classes are collaborations between the two programs and have often resulted in both excellent classes and wonderful learning opportunities for all kinds of students. The cooperation has entailed lessons with simplified versions of books and many kinetic and extremely engaging activities to both bond students together and help everyone grow and learn.

Cooperation between the two programs has clearly had many benefits for both the students in general education and special education. 

As she put it, “What we have found, including with your mom, is that a lot of times this helps both groups, both types of learners,” Mrs. Nicoletti said, “Whether it be an AP child, or an exceptional child receiving special education services.”

Based upon our conversation with Mrs. Nicoletti, it is clear to see that teaching these classrooms entails so much more than a curriculum and the consumption of information. She has a true love and passion for teaching and supporting students, and the ability to help them become everything that they have the capability to become, and in her mind that is anything.