I am excited to introduce myself to you. My name is Lori Ortiz and I was named the new FastTrack elementary (K-8) coordinator and special education teacher at the beginning of the 2013/2014 school year. My teaching year officially begins in late August, but I will be working with Fast Track every Thursday through the summer except on July 3. The main purpose of my position is to provide increased resources and support to families with children in grades K – 8. Part of what I bring to my new job is my blended experience of parenting three children and my thirty years of teaching in a variety of regular and special education roles. I have a lot to learn about the scope of this newly developed position,but however it evolves, I respect the adage that “parents are the first and primary teachers of their children.”
I started teaching in a small school in rural Minnesota. When I moved to Alaska, I first worked as a traveling special education teacher for Southeast Island School District, helping families set up special education tutoring in schools too small to have permanent special education staff on-site. This experience especially, feels like the one closest to my new role. I helped families assess skills levels for their children, and then I provided support materials for either a parent or a community aide. After SISD, I transferred to Houghtaling, first as an elementary special education resource teacher, (basically a specialist for math, writing and reading,) and then I spent fourteen years as a 3rd, 4th and 5th grade regular classroom teacher. As my own children moved up to the high school, I took a new job there. I taught in the intensive needs classroom for five years, followed by my recent five years as a high school resource teacher for students at risk of failing classes. As a high school resource teacher, I became familiar with the content of courses across the curriculum from art to algebra and from integrated science to American literature and maritime. While in college, and while starting my teaching career, I spent five summers as a camp counselor for people with disabilities. I mention this, because camp settings, outdoor education, hands-on learning, arts and crafts, and curriculums like “Project Adventure,” are also a significant part of my teaching passion and background.
I look forward to meeting all of you and sharing in this special time in your life. My youngest child, Sam, graduated just this past May, so I know firsthand how fast time flies and how precious are the stages of childhood. I also know that along with the moments of joy, there can be times when we are overwhelmed with feelings of frustration or doubt. Hopefully, I can be one more sounding board to assure you that children are unique. They all have gifts, and we can celebrate their individuality while we provide the foundation to help them grow into competence for life.
I hope to use creativity and enthusiasm to broaden the possibilities for our Fast Track families. I am a good listener, problem–solver, and ideas person. I expect to encounter a learning curve, as this is a new position. I think communication will be key. I hope you will bring your ideas and concerns to me, and that together we can build the best curriculum possible for your family’s needs. I intend to use technology to enhance communication between our Fast Track families and our staff. Mr. Whicker and I share a vision of posting electronic calendars as well as hard copy flyers for monthly activities, events and progress points. I have posted a June Fire Department activity and my summer office hours thus far.
I welcome your input. If any of the Fast Track families would like to meet over coffee or as a home visit, to help me get oriented to your needs, concerns, and ideas, please contact me by phone or email. My office is located on the second floor of Ketchikan High School in the back of the building above the central office. Enter back by the cul de sac, go up the left side of the large stairway by the windows. At the top of the stairway, continue straight ahead into our office.
In closing, I feel very lucky to have been assigned to this unique teaching role. Simply put, it is a lot of fun! I feel a great responsibility to do this job to the best of my ability. I look forward to our partnership.
Lori Ortiz (907 – 228 -8801) firstname.lastname@example.org