Q&A With Codington Elementary’s Special Needs Staff!

All of us at 101 Mobility can’t even begin to describe how excited are to be hosting our 3rd Annual Wheelchair Costume Halloween Parade at Codington Elementary school in Wilmington, NC! The big day is just a couple of days away. We got to speak with special needs teacher Vanessa Bishop and her assistants (Jennifer Lachapelle, Justin Burke, and intern Leslie McLean) about their classroom, the students, and their excitement for this year’s parade.


1. What led you to become a special needs educator?

Vanessa: I enjoyed working with children with special needs as early as high school! I have volunteered at camps, the Special Olympics, and other community programs. When I enrolled in college, I planned to be in education; at the time I had no idea I would focus on children who had multiple disabilities. I learned through various field experiences that teaching students with significant disabilities was my calling!

2. What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Justin: The most rewarding part of my job is seeing the smile of the kids and embracing them with the happiness they deserve.

3. What is an obstacle that you’ve had to overcome since taking your position?
Justin: I had to learn to work with the kids in an academic setting. There was also a lot to learn about the daily care and physical needs of this group of students, but it was well worth it!

4. At what point did you know that this is what you wanted to do for your career?
Leslie: I wanted to be a lawyer to advocate for children with disabilities, but became bored with the classes. I took a walk on UNC Wilmington’s campus and ended up in the Watson School for Education. It was then I realized that I would teach! I always knew I wanted to work with children with disabilities, but was not sure what I wanted to do.

5. What values do you practice in your classroom?
Jenny: I value providing a fun environment for the students to come and learn with their peers.

6. What’s your day-to-day motivation?
Jenny: I am motivated by my students and the entire school community at Codington. I love coming to work and interacting with the students, my co-workers, and families!

7. How many years have you been a special needs educator, and what is the most important thing you have learned during this time?
Vanessa: This is my 18th year of teaching special education. This is the most rewarding career due to the beautiful people I meet and work with. I have learned that communication is the key to a successful program. Communication with families, co-workers, the students, general education peers, and of course private companies such as 101 Mobility has proven very helpful!

everyone8. Like many teachers, you must have a tremendous amount of patience. Do you have any tips for our readers on how to handle unpredictable days?
Vanessa: Grin and bear it–it’s worth it!

9. How excited is everyone about the parade? What do you think we have in store for you this year?
Vanessa: Are you kidding????? The entire school is excited! We have been making announcements this week to get the entire student population geared up! We have general education students coming up to my students asking them what they will be this year!

I just want to thank 101 Mobility for donating their time, effort, and finances to ensuring our students have the best Halloween ever! It is so special for my students and their families to be the spotlight at Codington.

Want to read more about Vanessa Bishop? Check out this blog post.

To see what Ms. Bishop’s students were in last year’s Halloween Costume Parade, click here!

*Remember to check back for a blog post revealing the students’ costumes this year!*

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