Centenary alumna makes special needs advocacy her mission

Kathryn Nieves is a teacher at Sparta Middle School

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  • Kathryn Nieves

— A Centenary University 2015 alumna has made it her mission to share her teaching insight with other educators regarding methods to boost the self-confidence of special needs children.

Kathryn Nieves, a resident of Newton and a teacher at Sparta Middle School, recently published “Using Technology to Empower Students with Special Needs” on the education website Edutopia.com. Nieves talks about how teachers of middle grade special needs children can infuse passion into the learning process. Nieves discusses bringing student interests into the resources room by using different technological products such as Google Classroom. She advocates spending 20% of class time on the creation and completion of passion projects.

“I wanted to bring more awareness to the importance of maintaining and boosting the self-esteem of middle grade students who have special learning needs,” says Nieves. “I feel like this population is underrepresented, so, in addition to writing this article, I have been speaking at conferences about this subject. I have made it my mission to pass my insight along to other teachers.”

She has presented about Google and differentiation at several conferences, including the Garden State Summit and the New Jersey Teacher's Convention in 2016. In 2017, Nieves has plans to present at the New Jersey Educational Computing Cooperative at Montclair State University and at the Evolving Educators Conference “Tomorrow’s Classrooms Today” at Rider University.

Nieves is a Google Certified Educator and runs a technology-integrated classroom. One of her biggest educational passions is differentiation for both need and choice in her classes while still aligning to the curriculum and the standards. Other passions include adding more choice to the curriculum and providing students with the modifications they need for success without compromising their self-esteem. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Liberal Arts with Elementary Education from Centenary University.

Dr. Sharon Decker, Chair of the English Department at Centenary, is a strong supporter of Nieves: “Having shared several classrooms with Katie, I can attest to her strong speaking skills, her passion for sharing knowledge, and her intense commitment to helping others. She is one of the best and the brightest minds in the classroom today.”

Her full article that was published on Edutopia.com can be found here: www.edutopia.org/article/empowering-special-education-students-technology-kathryn-nieves.

Founded in 1867 by the Newark Conference of the United Methodist Church, Centenary University’s academic program integrates a solid liberal arts foundation with a strong career orientation. This mix is designed to provide an educational experience that prepares students to succeed in the increasingly global and interdependent world.

Centenary University’s main campus is located in Hackettstown, N.J., with its equestrian facility in Washington Township (Morris County). The Centenary University School of Professional Studies offers degree programs in two locations: Parsippany and Edison, and at corporate sites throughout New Jersey. The School of International Programs recruits international students for study at Centenary and Centenary students for study abroad.

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