INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — School’s out for another week at Clark-Pleasant Community Schools, but one resource teacher has spent several summer hours helping her students and making a huge difference for one in particular.
Amy Estabrook at Grassy Creek Elementary is this summer’s WISH-TV Treasured Teacher, based on a nomination from her student Jack Constant and his mom Sherrie.
“When you first start in this world per se, you don’t have a clue,” Sherrie Constant said. “It’s kind of a guessing game and you grab on.”
Sherrie Constant says as a parent of a student with autism, she’s learned how hard it can be to fit her child into the traditional school system. She learned Jack has autism when Jack was 3 years old, and has had to navigate a school system built for other types of learners.
“I kinda like school. I kinda do and I kinda don’t,” said Jack, age 11.
Sherrie Constant says even their good days are hard. Then in 5th grade, Jack had the option of stepping out of his classroom to visit Mrs. Estabrook’s resource room.
“I never expected him to go from the child who couldn’t stay at school all day to the class president,” said Sherrie Constant. “[Mrs. Estabrook] respects these kids. She talks to them, finds out what they need.”
We learned Mrs. Estabrook shares her phone number with her student’s parents, keeps them updated throughout the week, and helps accommodate for her students’ needs during the day, including slicing their lunch vegetables in a particular way. Then outside of school, she attends their sports games and befriends their parents and siblings.
“I’ve never encountered someone who loves these kids so much and cares about these kids. It’s not just a job for her. Period. It’s not,” Constant said.
Our team wanted to help the Constant family recognize Mrs. Estabrook. So, we surprised her with cameras rolling at a lunch gathering she had with the family and a fellow teacher.
“Shocked. Absolutely shocked,” she laughed after the initial surprise. “Shaking, aboslutely shaking.”
Then we showed her the nomination video we helped the Constant family make, and watched as tears rolled down her cheeks.
“It was probably the best relationship I’ve ever had with an educator. I mean they have a tough job. A tough job. But with special needs kids its a whole new world,” said Sherrie Constant. “I can’t even express what I think about her. She deserves so much.”
Jack doesn’t sing Mrs. Estabrook’s praises the same way his mom does, but he said something telling about how she makes him feel.
“Neutral. Just like everyone else,” Jack said.
“Just to hear neutral from him is perfect,” Estabrook said, “because then he’s happy. That’s the biggest part. I just want all the kids to be happy and feel normal.”
To watch the full nomination video, click below.
“He’s an awesome kid and honestly I would do anything for this family and Jack and all the kids that I’ve had. I just absolutely love them all. So thank you,” Estabrook said.
We also asked Mrs. Estabrook to share some advice to other teachers with special needs students.
“The biggest part is to get to know the kids and get to know the families. I think it’s huge to hear from the families what their child needs because they know the child best, and then just treat them like every other child. When they have that moment that they need that extra help, just, help them through that time that they really need that extra help, and then get them back to being with their peers and being with everybody else.”
To nominate a teacher in your life, send reporter Brenna Donnelly an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or send her a message on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and explain why your educator should be one of Central Indiana’s Treasured Teachers.