Behind the Apple — Chanda Pye, Oakbrook Elementary School
One Thanksgiving, when she was in grade school, Chanda Pye, 39, of Summerville, taught her uncle how to play Mary Had a Little Lamb on the piano. Her father’s brother had Down Syndrome but was able to copy her until he could do it himself.
“The first stage of learning is mimicking,” says Pye, “and I knew then after teaching my uncle, who’s non-verbal, that that is what I wanted to do when I grew up…teach special children.”
And so she does at Oakbrook Elementary School where she has taught special children for the past five years.
Her dad was a Methodist minister so they moved every few years and home truly was wherever they hung their hat. She graduated from Walhalla High School in Oconee County but, she says, she considers Spartanburg her “home” because that is where she went to college – Converse College – and where she lived for the first time independently.
She earned her BS in education, with an emphasis on Special Education as well as a Plus 18.
At Oakbrook she works part time as a Resource teacher and part time as an RTI – Response to Intervention.
“I help struggling children get the extra support in whatever they are struggling with,” she says.
She began her career by teaching for two years In Spartanburg District 7, an inner city school. It was a great learning experience, she says.
After marrying and moving to the Lowcountry with her Charlestonian husband, she taught at Hannahan Elementary for four years. Hers was the model classroom for the district – a cross categorical classroom of Kindergarten through fifth grade students.
She took a two-year hiatus to help her husband get his business established.
After that, she went to Windsor Hill Arts Infused Elementary School to teach a Special Ed Self-Contained class for three years.
And then along came baby and she took a year off before arriving at Oakbrook.
In addition to teaching she is involved with the Fall Festival, is grade chair, a mentor to new teachers and is on the English language arts leadership committee.
Oh, and she has been nominated as Teacher of the Year for three years getting runner up at Oakbrook in the 2007-08 school year.
“I look at every year as a new year and at the end of each year reflect on what went well and what I could do better. I am very fortunate…I love what I do.
“I strive every day for these children to be college ready.”
“I can almost pick something out of every year [as a best experience] but I guess having the inclusion opportunity to teach in a mainstream classroom with my students as well as all the others is best. I get to team teach and see the wonderful gains in our scores through this…I get to learn from other teachers.”
Her professional goal is to teach.
“I can see myself, maybe down the road, as an interventionist or maybe administration is in the cards but I love the classroom and just want to continue teaching be it other teachers or children.”
She says she loves teaching other teachers strategies for helping their students.
When not at school, she and her husband Tim, are parents to two little boys – Tristan, 7 and Trevor, 5 – both students at Oakbrook, and Angel, their Golden retriever/Yellow Lab dog.
Spare time is not something she has much of, but when she does, her immediate choice is scrapbooking.
“Now that you can do it online, it is easier…I take so many pictures and then make books of our family as gifts.”
As a family they spend a lot of time outdoors.
“We play tourist in our own town,” she says.
“I spend a lot of time keeping up with the children.” This includes going to t-ball, soccer and flag football games.
“I enjoy cooking but my husband loves to cook and I love to eat it and help clean up…his dishes are more flavorful and I am not ashamed to say it!”
She loves to read and be with her children.
She and her husband make sure they have a regular “date night” and “his mom is so wonderful to help us make time for date night.”
Her life goal is “to see my own children grow to be positive, self-sufficient, independent adults who are proud of who they are.”