Head of the Class: North Branford special education teacher’s journey started when she was a swim instructor

Head of the Class

Back to School Photos 2021-22

NORTH BRANFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – Jackie Thurston is a high school special education teacher in North Branford. Her journey to become a teacher started when she was younger.

“So, I started in the elementary level, so I taught fourth and fifth-grade special education for 15 years. I used to be a swim instructor and Irene had a special student who happened to have Autism and I was teaching him how to swim, and one day, it just clicks. He went from not being able to get in the water to all of a sudden swimming with no noodle, and I just said this is so powerful and magical and after that, I knew that I had to pursue teaching,” Thurston said.

She’s now living a life full of big and small magical moments.

“Those are the moments you can never imagine the impact they have in your life,” Thurston said.

Her impact isn’t just locally, she’s taken it to a global level. She spent three weeks in India, teaching a classroom full of children and still impacting those students just like she would her own back home.

“Do you know what I do think, I think about how every interaction you have with the student is impactful no matter how small,” Thurston said.

Whether she’s in her classroom or on the other side of the world, she’s always challenging herself to be there for her students. She’s full of energy and love for her students and she’s a teacher that students are lucky to have.

“You have no ideas what moment it’s going to be that for somebody I have to make sure that every moment and every interaction you have with students leaves a positive impact on their life because it can change the trajectory of their life honestly,” Thurston said.

If you would like to share your story about being a teacher head to: www.teachersofconnecticut.org/share-your-story/

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