Pursuing a passion to find the right ‘piece’

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Kasey Stallbaum

Special Education teacher Jana Yokel proudly shows off her statewide Autism Spectrum Disorder Network Friend of Autism Award. Yokel has been teaching at DCPS for the past 20 years.

Kasey Stallbaum

Having a love and a passion for teaching is a great quality for any teacher, but when a teacher goes above and beyond to meet the needs of his or her students, it makes them outstanding. Jana Yokel is the Special Education teacher at David City Elementary and takes great pride in what she does. Yokel received the statewide Autism Spectrum Disorder Network Friend of Autism Award on April 7 at the Embassy Suites Convention Center.

Yokel was nominated for the award by fellow DCPS Special Education teacher  Amanda Novak. She was chosen from among numerous candidates because of her love for her job, her endless amount of hours she puts in, and her passion to improve students’ lives.

“Jana was definitely surprised. I think she was more surprised when they announced me to come on stage to read my letter of recommendation.  During my speech, she knew it was her by a story that I told.  Humble as always, Jana graciously accepted her award, but there was also another surprise,” Novak said. “We arranged for some of her fellow teachers, her sister, brother-in-law, and her niece to walk in after Jana received her award.  It was the perfect surprise and over 900 people got to witness Jana receiving her award.  She finally got the recognition that she deserves!”

Classes Yokel teaches are those that require extra assistance or that take a different approach on learning. Most of her classes include social skills, reading, math, and communications. She dedicates a lot of her time to her students inside and outside of the classroom.

“I try to specialize my classes to meet each student’s special needs,” Yokel said. “I then like to meet with their parents to give them tips to work with them at home.”

According to Yokel, Special Education is a field that you have to celebrate the little things and take your time getting to know each student.

“The greatest prize of teaching students with needs is being able to see their progress and reactions to finally nailing a task they once could not do,” Yokel said. “I also love getting to see my student grow throughout elementary and then being able to watch them walk across the stage at graduation.”