Ott’s dedication impacts the community
LPHS has many inspiring staff members and students. One of them is the Special Education director and educator Diane Ott.
In charge of the Special Education department, Ott works with teachers at LPHS, does administrative work, and teaches. Every single day is new and filled with all types of tasks.
“In the morning, if teachers call off and they don’t get substitutes, we have to look for teachers or talk to Mrs. Campos in the office about getting substitutes. That’s what I do during first hour, second hour I teach, third hour I plan, fourth and fifth hour I teach Algebra, and during sixth hour once a week, I go to department head meetings and during seventh hour I’m free to do what I need to do, such as grade papers,” Ott said.
Since sixth grade, Ott knew she wanted to help students with special needs as best as she could. Her inspiration is her best friend, Sandy Peunty, who has cerebral palsy, a disorder that affects the body’s movement.
“She was actually three years older than all of us because she was in a special school, and she wasn’t given the academics she needed; they were mostly working on physical therapy with her, I think she’s happy about what I do, and it makes her feel good to know that she was my inspiration on why I wanted to do what I do,” Ott said.
Ott has been in the education field for almost 40 years now. She went to school at Indiana University in Bloomington for teaching and obtained her degree in elementary education and earned her endorsements in special education so she can teach students with learning and emotional disabilities.
“As a Special Education educator, we adapt and make changes to the curriculum and provide tools for students to achieve success to the best of their ability. We give students a fair playing field and many students don’t take advantage of the opportunities provided to them,” Ott said.
There are many struggles when it comes to being a Special Education educator. Needing students to trust that one has their best interests at heart is one of them. Taking the job home is another struggle Ott knows all too well.
“When the school dismissal bell rings, there are a lot of students who don’t want to go home due to unhappy home lives. It is hard to let them go as well. Many students confide in us about home life and there are times you just want to take them home with you although you know this can’t be done. You worry, you stress, and pray that they are in school the next day. Also, knowing that joy does not come easy to a lot of our Special Education students is another struggle that is tough to accept. You want what is best for students but there are times when they don’t believe they deserve it or can’t achieve it. To see students struggle making friends or sitting alone at the lunch table also weighs heavy on your heart,” Ott said.
Ott wants to make sure every student has a chance to succeed whether it’s in school or just in life and they’re given the same opportunities as others.
“Teaching students how to deal with emotions and how to problem solve is a big part of the job. Igniting a spark in learning is a wonderful reward. When you see a student reach that ‘aha moment’ after working with them all semester; knowing they finally understand the concept. Having a positive impact on students’ lives is something that I do not take for granted. When you see struggling freshmen come in and watch them blossom into wonderful, self-assured young adults and know that part of their confidence you helped produce, makes all the hard work well worth it. Celebrating milestones with students is also a joy; watching a student graduate and venture out into the ‘real world’ is another benefit that really fills the soul with happiness. Inspiring others to do their best and believe in themselves is yet another aspect to my job, ” Ott said.
Ott does whatever she can to stay busy and help anyone who is in need of her assistance and what makes her happy. Ott loves working with the teachers at LPHS and makes it one of her reasons why she comes to work each day and also to know she is able to support and encourage one student makes her feel her day is well worth it.