Interview with special education teacher Paul Ringering
Question 1: Where did you move from? Why?
Answer 1: “Ellinwood, Kansas, 150 miles west. We [my family] just wanted something new. I grew up there, and our school is going downhill. And, the town we lived in, if you didn’t farm, like major farm, there is nothing else.”
Question 2: What job did you have there? Are you enjoying your job here more? Why or why not?
Answer 2: “I was an insurance agent. Yes, I did this [special education] before, and then I went to that and missed the kids.”
Question 3: Is your degree in special education? If not, would you ever go back and get a degree in special education?
Answer 3: “No [my degree is not in special education]. [If I were to go back and get the degree, I would go to] Kansas State University.”
Question 4: What is your favorite part about working in special education?
Answer 4: “It’s a constant challenge, because I get bored really easy.”
Question 5: What is the hardest part about working in special education?
Answer 5: “Always being ‘on.’”
Question 6: Describe a normal day in special education.
Answer 6: “I don’t think there is a normal day. They’re just busy and fast.”
Question 7: Do you think there could be any actions done to involve the special education kids more? What do you think could be done?
Answer 7: “Possibly, there has got to be ways. Maybe go to some Gen. Ed. [general education] classes, for a short time.”
Question 8: Are the kids comfortable around you since you are new? Did it take them time to become comfortable?
Answer 8: “It took a couple weeks, probably, for me and them.”
Question 9: What differences are there between a normal day for special education students versus an average student?
Answer 9: “They have a teacher shadowing them all day, no matter where they are at.”
Question 10: Does working with special education kids help you in the real world when you see someone with special needs? Would you react differently if you didn’t teach special education?
Answer 10: “Oh yeah. Possibly, but my oldest son is autistic.”
Question 11: As a kid, did you want to be a teacher?
Answer 11: “No, I always wanted to be a vet [veterinarian].”
Question 12: When did you decide you wanted to be a teacher? How did you know you wanted to be a special education teacher?
Answer 12: “I started doing it [teaching] in ’06, and I just kind of fell into it, just always liked it.”
Question 13: What are your hobbies outside of class?
Answer 13: “Hanging out with my kids. I have seven children. Hanging out with my seven children and my wife.”
Question 14: If you weren’t teaching special education, what job do you think you would have?
Answer 14: “Probably be back in insurance, but it is boring.”
Interview and photo by Haley Smith, Staff Member