Photo by Vickers Photography
Julie Muse was named Teacher of the Year for Mustang Valley Elementary. Muse teaches third and fourth grade mild/moderate special education, ELA and math. She’s been teaching for 14 years, seven of those with Valley.
Muse fell in love with the idea of teaching while she was working as a nanny and attending college. Breanne, the third of four children, had developmental delays. She was a little over 2-years-old, and the family was just learning of her special needs.
“I got to see her blossom,” she said. “She helped me learn how to work with children with different abilities. Breanne planted the seed for my future as a special education teacher.”
Muse started her teaching career at the high school level.
“After three years, I knew I needed to intervene earlier in order to make the greatest impact in the lives of my students,” she said. “When I worked with 14-15 year olds who struggled with basic reading skills it made me wish I could have been their teacher in elementary school. I could have worked on those early reading skills with them and possibly changed the course of their educational path.”
Muse works to ensure her students who leave Valley Elementary have been not only prepared, but also challenged to participate in the general education setting.
“That’s where they should be, with the support they require and also with the confidence in themselves that they can be successful,” she said.
One student who made an impact on Muse was Adam Elliot, who was diagnosed with PANDAS (pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infection) while at Valley. The condition can include obsessive behaviors, tics and dramatic mood and personality changes.
“He had some very difficult times in elementary school as his family learned of his diagnosis and how to manage the symptoms while maximizing educational success,” she said. “We were team Adam all the way. His parents, teachers, related service providers, administrators, and I worked closely together and it was amazing to watch his progress and how he broke through barriers and grew into a wonderful student. I learned so much from him and his mother about a new diagnosis and it has helped me become a better teacher.”
Muse and her husband have two children at Mustang.
“We love Mustang Schools in general, but more specifically Valley will always be in our hearts. I can't put it into words, but Valley is such a special place. I know it was a God thing when Jill Mitchell called me one June afternoon and effectively 'stole' me from another district.’”
Muse is one of 16 Teachers of the Year for Mustang Public Schools. A District Teacher of the Year will be announced at a banquet in March.