Position: ESE PLA Transition Teacher
School: Alden Road Exceptional Student Center
School District: Duval County Public Schools
City, State: Jacksonville, FL
Music that Describes Amy
Amy Take was nominated by her colleague, Lorrie Comberg.
"It is my distinct pleasure to nominate Ms. Amy Take for LifeChanger of the Year," said Comberg. "Ms. Take has been teaching for our district for 26 years, and I have had the opportunity to work with Ms. Take since 2013 at Alden Road Exceptional Student Center. While working together, I am impressed with her work ethic, her ability to understand the needs of students with significant disabilities, and her ability to elevate and support the classroom staff who support her and their students. She tackles challenges with passion, patience, and organization to seek a positive outcome."
Ms. Take is an innovative educator out of necessity. Students with significant cognitive, communicative, physical, and behavioral disabilities often need tools, sensory objects, educational tasks, communication modes, and behavioral structures. These resources are so individualized that they cannot be bought or found on a page in a book; they must be created. Ms. Take describes this artistry of engineering as "noodling" because of the use of pool noodles, PVC piping, and other creative tools she employs to construct items for student access or safety. She adapts and repurposes common materials for her students. She adds weights or larger grips to feeding utensils, creates sensory stands from plastic bottles and PVC, and uses items like shower curtains to create a peaceful respite for students with sensory needs who can become overstimulated.
Ms. Take intends to build as much independence in her students as possible, regardless of how it looks. Students feeding themselves, learning to request an item, or adapting to a change in routines are all part of daily instruction in her classroom. She has worked with many students whose behavioral needs were very challenging (elopement, scratching, hitting, self-injury). She discovers what motivates them, implements a plan with absolute fidelity, and provides a routine to shape these behaviors in minute steps. She has that "Je ne sais quois" when it comes to her students.
Her passion for what she does and her work ethic make her job seem easy to one who has never been in her shoes. She has been pivotal in changing the lives of some of her students with severe behavioral needs. These students have had other teachers who have had the same opportunity to shape their behaviors, and those teachers were unsuccessful year after year. Ms. Take is a respected leader for teachers and paraprofessionals in the building; one of quiet conversation, support (personal and professional), and advice that does not need to be advertised to know it exists.
She has also had a significant impact on her school district. Ms. Take co-authored the currently used district assessment for students at the Participatory level of functioning. She assisted with the field testing and fidelity of a new computer-based IEP program. She has led several school-based trainings on technology, data collection, creating sensory and manipulative items for classrooms, and creating assistive technology for use in the classroom. She has completed the district's Innovative Educator training and holds sixteen badges through the Microsoft for Educators program. In addition to being a certified mentor for new teachers in her district, Ms. Take has also served as the school technology contact and webmaster. She is currently her school's Teacher of the Year for the 2022-2023 school year.
Ms. Take is a quick study and hard worker who is committed to helping develop an instructionally sound learning environment for her students. She has gained the confidence of instructional staff, support staff, administration, and parents. Her influence and leadership have contributed to the achievements of students and the development of effective practices here at Alden Road.
"Ms. Take is an asset to our school and Duval County Public Schools," said Comberg.