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Shawnee teacher offers HOPE to students

Elisabeth Slay
The Shawnee News-Star
Shawnee educator Dana Boyer in the HOPE Room at the Shawnee Early Childhood Center.

Educator Dana Boyer is one of two teachers working with students in Shawnee Public Schools’ Helping Our Pack Excel (HOPE) program, which is meant to help students who have social and emotional difficulties. 

Boyer is an educator at the Shawnee Early Childhood Center and she works with various students who learn in the HOPE Room.

“SPS established the HOPE Program to provide support and social and emotional learning skills and tools for our students struggling to be successful in the traditional classroom setting,” Boyer said. “SPS is committed to every student's success. Our district consistently strives to meet the needs of the whole child.” 

Boyer has been an educator for 30 years and she said she strives to help all of her students learn ways to connect with their peers. 

“I am fortunate to have the opportunity to develop connections with students who feel disconnected, discouraged and disengaged,” Boyer said. “I help students obtain safety, connection and problem solving skills to enhance their ability to interact in school and our community.” 

Boyer said the HOPE Program is important for students because it provides them with the necessary support and remediation needed to succeed academically and socially. 

“I also have the opportunity to assist the traditional classroom teachers with the development and implementation of behavioral supports inside their classrooms.” Boyer said. “Our district is incredibly blessed to have exceptional teachers who are devoted to helping our littlest Wolves develop into healthy and happy learners.” 

In addition to the HOPE Room. Boyer said she and other SPS educators work hard to help these students in various ways.

“SPS has put in place a Calm Down Room, with our assistant Terri Redus,” Boyer said. “Sarah Stewart oversees our Body Shop where students go to work on primitive reflexes and brain and body development.” 

The educator said she has always wanted to be a teacher and follow in the footsteps of her teachers who were her heroes and are now her co-workers. 

“The evolution of my philosophy of what it means to be a teacher has been a personal growth journey. Self-regulation and executive functioning skills are the most valuable lessons our students will ever learn,” Boyer said. “Conscious discipline is a passion for me personally and professionally, hence my desire to pursue this HOPE.”

Boyer said this year times are difficult because of COVID-19 and the uncertainty of what the future looks like for students this year. 

“Of course our families and students are dealing with the anxiety of the unknown which contributes to adverse behavior,” Boyer said.

Though the pandemic brings uncertainty, Boyer said she will continue to work with her students and help them grow. 

“I want every student to know he (or) she is loved, worthy and valued. I want every student to know he (or) she can do hard things,” Boyer said. “I hope that HOPE has a life changing impact for our most vulnerable students.”