Sarah Colaw celebrates every success, no matter how small.

Sarah Colaw celebrates every success, no matter how small.
Colaw, a special education teacher at McPherson Middle School, was honored as McPherson School District's Teacher of the Year Nov. 12.
Colaw of McPherson studied at University of Kansas and Emporia State University before beginning her teaching career in 1992 in Lincoln, Kan. as a second-grade teacher. She later taught in Inman and at McPherson elementary schools before moving full-time to the middle school.
Colaw said her teaching philosophy centers around believing everyone can achieve something, no matter how seemingly small.
“Everybody can,” Colaw said. “Everybody’s unique, and everyone can learn in their own way.”
Colaw said achievement can be difficult to measure in her classroom, where students may not progress very much over the course of the year. However, she said it’s important to recognize the small things.
“We celebrate every success, no matter how little,” Colaw said. “My students might not progress as quickly as general education students, but that doesn’t mean their successes aren’t worth celebrating.”
Colaw said the nature of her job allows her to be more involved with her students because the students need it.
“I get involved in every aspect — medical, home, and so on,” Colaw said. “Everything affects them. Some of them are nonverbal, so they can’t go home and tell their parents what they did at school. I communicate a lot more frequently with those parents.”
She said she often becomes a part of the family.
Colaw said she would like to see less emphasis put on testing in schools. She said tests only measure how students do on a particular day and often miss the bigger picture of what students can achieve.
“It’s a stressful time for the kids,” Colaw said. “There are better ways to evaluate students than standardized tests.”
Despite challenges, Colaw said McPherson is a good place to be a teacher.
“I’ve loved teaching in McPherson,” Colaw said. “It’s been great.”