Elizabeth “Betsy” Judge is one of those people who knew what they wanted to do in life at a very young age. A special education teacher at Queensbury Elementary School, Judge says a volunteer program she participated in during her high school years solidified her love of teaching.
“I went to high school down in Poughkeepsie and my school had just started a program where you could start volunteering time at the elementary school,” said Judge. “So my junior and senior years, I volunteered two hours a day at the elementary school and just knew that this was what I wanted.”
Judge, whose mother is also an elementary special education teacher, is currently in her second year of teaching at the Queensbury Union Free School District. She says every day is different with her first grade class, comprised of nine students.
“When you’re working in a self-contained classroom, every child has different needs and different strengths, so it’s important to make sure we’re advancing the students along as much as possible,” Judge said. “You really have to forge a strong bond with each child so that they feel safe learning and trying something that they perceive as being difficult.”
Judge says that strong bond is easy to obtain in a small class, where it’s easier to get to know students one-on-one. The small class size also allows Judge to individualize lesson plans, based on her students’ needs, which propels them forward in their learning.
“There’s that moment right before a student really gets something and you can see the wheels turning,” Judge said. “You know they’ve struggled and things don’t always come easily and it might seem repetitive, even though you’re presenting it in different ways, but the moment it clicks and they understand it and they’re ready to move on to another level in their learning. That’s my favorite part.”
Education is a profession where passion for what you do and who you serve, has a direct impact on the work. Passionate educators create a positive and enriching school experience for students and serve as a powerful, positive influence on children; and Judge says that passion is evident in Queensbury.
“Superintendent Huntley has visited my classroom multiple times to read to my students, and that’s something I don’t think you find in every district,” Judge said. “Administrators and teachers are willing to help each other and everyone is so tight-knit. It’s a lot of fun, I’m very happy to be here.”