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Exceptional Teacher of Exceptional Students

Theory and Practice in Teacher Education (TPTE) graduate in special education wins Anderson County teacher of the year award

Written by Joan Grim, senior lecturer in special education.

Andy Alpers and T Parrott photo 2019

Andy Alpers (’16) was an excellent student in high school and received great grades, but he wasn’t interested in his classes. That was until he decided to take the peer tutoring course at Hardin Valley Academy. It was in this one credit course that Andy found his passion for teaching students with moderate to severe disabilities. It was his experiences as a peer tutor that motivated him to pursue his goal of becoming a teacher and enter the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK) special education program.

Andy was born in Minnesota and grew up in West Knoxville. He graduated from UT in 2016 with a Master of Science degree in special education. UT’s teacher education curriculum is a rigorous program, including a fifth year doing a ten month internship teaching in Anderson County Schools’ special education classrooms, completing action research, and passing the national edTPA exam. Andy excelled in his special education courses. He made such an impression on his mentor teachers that Anderson County hired him to teach in their special education Comprehensive Developmental Classroom (CDC) for 9th through 12th grades.

His CDC curriculum is geared towards integrating components of traditional high school academic subjects and guidance on independence, future employment, and social- recreational opportunities for his students. He tries to do a variety of activities to keep his students engaged. One of his favorite classes to plan for is a World War II (WWll) reenactment. His students and their peer tutors represent the different countries involved, act out strategies, significant invasions, and battles. The students enjoyed the original reenactment so much that they do an historic reenactment every year.

TPTE congratulates Andy on his success!