Lindsey Niffenegger, Elementary Education

Minor Emphasis: Strategist II Severe & Profound Special Education

Why did you choose UNI's Teacher Education program?  I had my school counselor suggest UNI for the teacher education program.  The reasoning was that it is a bigger school with a small town feel and that I would have leadership opportunities, which has all been true.  As I began looking into colleges, I first looked at schools where I could use my talent as a runner.  The only school that I finally decided to visit was UNI.  I fell in love with the beautiful campus and the friendliness of the students and faculty.  I am a huge people person and I could feel the support and caring from everyone on campus, especially from the faculty and staff.

What current/prior experiences do you have with special education?  I have a family member with special needs and I have nannied for 2 families with children who have downs syndrome.  Through my experiences with them I was connected to the Respite Connection which provides support for families with individuals with special needs.  I also had the opportunity to work as a one-on-one aide with one of those children within the school system.

What is a fond memory of your time spent at UNI?  During my Phase II experience at Lincoln Elementary I was able to see pure excitement from one of my students.  That joy and excitement will always be etched into my memory.  On the last day of my field experience, I brought treats as a way of thanking the students for their hard work and for all that I had learned from them throughout the semester.  One of the 3rd graders was so excited that he literally jumped for joy in and out of the classroom with tears in his eyes.  That was such a heart warming experience and I will never forget how I was able to give that child joy and how much joy he also gave to me.

Any tips for prospective/current students that are working toward similar degrees?  Keep your head up and keep sight of  the reason why you chose this journey to begin with.  Maintaining your passion is extremely important and it is also important to be open to the reality of the day-to-day work within the schools that will allow you the potential to invoke change in student's lives.

What are your career plans? Where would you like your UNI education to take you?  I want to come back to UNI as a graduate student and then I'd like to start out in a special education setting.  I would eventually like to transition into the general education setting where I can work towards full inclusion for special education students.

Any fun quotes or words of advice to the people reading this profile?   One person can make a difference, you just have to take the first step.