Goodyear special needs instructor wins Gaydos & Chad’s teacher tribute

Mar 15, 2021, 3:00 PM | Updated: May 14, 2021, 2:05 pm
(Palm Valley Elementary School Photo)...
(Palm Valley Elementary School Photo)
(Palm Valley Elementary School Photo)

PHOENIX – A Goodyear kindergarten teacher who works with special needs students has been named KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Gaydos and Chad Show’s Pay Tribute to a Teacher winner for February, presented by Your Valley Toyota Dealers.

Sarah Williams teaches at Palm Valley Elementary School. With most students learning online because of the pandemic, she was able to work on campus in her self-contained classroom.

“There’s a whole range of different kiddos in my classroom,” Williams said. “I have kids that are verbal, nonverbal, some kids that are mobile, usually I have some that aren’t, and every single one of them is just awesome.”

Williams taught a child who needs to use a walker how to ride a tricycle.

“We had the whole gym to ourselves,” she said. “This little guy, I could tell he wanted to ride, too.”

But he was nervous once he was on a three-wheeler. Williams encouraged him to keep his feet on the pedals while she pushed him along on his ride.

After a couple of weeks, though, he was excited to be on the trike, able to put his feet on the pedals by himself. “It’s just the most awesome thing to see,” Williams said.

That enthusiasm, diligence and patience gave one parent the resolve to nominate Williams for the $2,500 prize.

“My son has grown by leaps and bounds in Ms. Williams’ class,” the boy’s mother wrote, pointing out Williams has nine other students to nurture.

“Normally teachers send out a list of school supplies they need at the beginning of school year, and Ms. Williams has asked for nothing from us. I think this prize would blow her mind,” the letter writer said.

Williams previously worked with special needs children in their homes as a music therapist but budget cuts eliminated her job about 11 years ago.

She applied for an instructional assistant position at the Litchfield Elementary School District office.

“[A single] day in the classroom, I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be,” Williams said.

She’s going to spend some of the money on classroom supplies and wants to spring for a trip here for her sister and nephew who live in Wisconsin.

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Goodyear special needs instructor wins Gaydos & Chad’s teacher tribute