Teacher Tuesday with Rachel McNair

Teacher Tuesday with Rachel McNair
Posted on 03/28/2023
Silly with preschoolers is more than fun

Rachel McNair is no stranger to special education, but not likely for the first reason you may guess.

Rachel has been immersed in special education since she was very young because of her own moderate/severe hearing loss. As a result, she has worn hearing aids since age two.

Rachel is a product of NACS’ special education program, starting in developmental preschool at Hickory Center in 1999. She had an IEP (individualized education plan) until she graduated from Carroll High School in 2014. She received speech therapy services throughout elementary school and had access to the resource room.

The most beloved part of her work continues to be silly moments she shares with students. “Having a strong relationship with your students goes a long way,” said Rachel. “If I want them to be able to write their name and count to 10, I HAVE to have those silly, relationship-building moments. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dramatically pretended that my mouth is on fire because a student pretended to give me hot sauce. Those silly moments help build that relationship, which helps the child feel safe, secure, and it builds the idea that school should be fun!”  

Rachel relates so well to her students in part because she has confronted feelings of doubt around her own capabilities. “I have a unique perspective of having a disability and teaching students with disabilities. I’ve had people underestimate me and make assumptions based on my hearing.”

As Rachel matured, she attended her IEP meetings, and they had always asked what she wanted to do once she graduated. Since middle school she confidently responded that, “I wanted to be a special education preschool teacher, just like my preschool teacher. I looked up to her and had very fond memories of my preschool experience.”

After high school, Rachel worked as an instructional assistant at Cedar Canyon in the developmental preschool. “I was lucky enough to be able to work alongside with the instructional assistant that I had when I was in preschool. I worked as an aide and went to Purdue Fort Wayne until my student teaching in 2020. Then, in 2021, I started my teaching career as a teacher in one of the developmental preschools at Cedar Canyon,” she said.

“I want people to understand that having a disability doesn’t define what you will do and who you’ll be,” she said. Crediting her teachers, Rachel added that she would not be where she is now without the support of her past teachers and all the accommodations put into place to help her thrive.

She describes her students as, “some of the coolest and most interesting kids you’ll ever meet.” Those students will eventually grow into adults who live in our community, and she anticipates what that will look like for them. “I can’t wait to see what they will accomplish and what kind of people they’ll turn out to be.

“My biggest motivator is to help give these kids the foundational skills they’ll need to be able to receive their education and be successful in whatever they decide to do,” said Rachel. In the end, she hopes to enable her students to reach their goals just like her teachers helped her.