Baylor School of Education (SOE) senior Sasha Wells, who is majoring in all-level special education, is a recipient of the Texas Association of School Personnel Administrators (TASPA) Scholarship for 2014. TASPA gives only three annual scholarships statewide, and this is the sixth year in a row (and the twelfth time since 1998) that a Baylor SOE student has received a scholarship. TASPA will recognize this year’s recipients at a luncheon in Austin on Dec. 11.
Wells, who is from Lago Vista outside of Austin, said she knew she wanted to go into special education after working with special needs children at a horseback riding camp while she was in high school. “I loved it,” she said. “After that, it was something I felt like I was called to do.”
During this academic year, Wells is serving as an intern at Castleman Creek Elementary School in Midway ISD, where she teaches in a pre-K program for children with disabilities. “Right now we are working on basic things like following directions, teaching them their names, colors, counting and social skills,” she said. “There is a mix of academic and social skills, and they are all so sweet. They can be a little naughty sometimes, but they’re toddlers, so it’s not unexpected.”
One of Wells’ professors at the SOE, Dr. Tonya Davis, associate professor in the Special Education Program in the Department of Educational Psychology, said Wells is an excellent teacher and advocate for her students.
“Last year, I supervised her teaching in a self-contained special education classroom,” Davis said. “Sasha was assigned a student who had no formal communication skills. Within just a few days, she taught him to request using an electronic communication device. What a joy it was to see her take initiative and give a student the ability to communicate for the first time in his life!”
Wells said that Davis and SOE lecturers Dr. Tracey Sulak and Pat Arredondo have been great influences on her while at Baylor. “I think the Baylor program is awesome,” she said. “The professors in the School of Education really take the time to get to know you, and even the advisors really remember details and are interested in how you are doing. The classes are small, and the professors care about you.”
Wells said she enjoys teaching in a self-contained special education classroom and likes working with all ages. Outside of class, she enjoys volunteering for Friends for Life, an organization for special-needs adults. “It’s one of the coolest programs in Waco,” she said. “Everyone there always remembers you and wants to know how you are doing. It just makes you feel better.”
Wells is also a member of Baylor’s national championship equestrian team as an English rider on the hunt-seat team. “My freshman year we won the national championship, which was so much fun,” she said. “And we beat A&M for it, which made it a little bit sweeter.”
Wells is a first-generation Baylor student and said she chose Baylor because of its outstanding program in all-level special education.
Earning the TASPA scholarship will allow Wells to travel to Costa Rica at spring break for the SOE’s service learning trip to Santa Elena School in San Jose, she said. —Meg Cullar