During the last 20 years, Michele Bautsch has worked in nearly every building in Exeter, and has held nearly a dozen different job titles, but none have been the most fulfilling to her until this year when she achieved her goal of becoming a full-time certified special education teacher–a journey that she said she owes to teachers and administrators who saw her special light, talent and love in working with emotional support students and kept encouraging her to further her education to have a classroom of her own. “I never thought I would become a special education teacher at 54,” said Michele, adding a touch of her signature encouragement: “It is never too late to go back to school and get the degree you deserve. It takes a lot of effort, but in the end it is all worth it.”
Michele’s journey began in teaching when she earned an elementary education degree after graduating from college. However, when her children were born, she decided to stay home to care for them. When her girls, Rachel ‘12 and Jordan ‘14, entered school full time, Michele looked to return to work as a teacher, but her teaching certification had expired. It was then that she began her 20-year journey in the district holding a variety of teaching aide positions at Jacksonwald, Owatin Creek, Reiffton and the Senior High, mostly working with students who have special needs. Looking back, she said she always loved working with younger students, but it was seeing her impact on older kids with emotional needs that she found the greatest satisfaction, which propelled her to return to school in the fall of 2019 to recertify as a special education teacher. Next week, she’ll graduate from Alvernia with her master’s degree in special education–and a 4.0.
Although Michele is quick to thank the administrators who encouraged her and inspired her to chase her dream of becoming a certified teacher, you’ll find that it’s those same people who are inspired by Michele’s own journey and perseverance. “She shows her students day in and day out that hard work pays off and that you can always strive for more for yourself,” says Secondary Special Education Supervisor Jillian Brodhead. Owatin Creek Principal Kristi Coble agreed, and added, “Seeing Michele in action with students, it was always evident she was meant to be a teacher. Her dedication to student success and to continue her education in order to do so is inspirational!”