SILVIS, Ill. — In Emily Boyle's room at George O. Barr Elementary in Silvis, every day brings its own, unique challenge.
That includes a challenge for the students, like when they learn vowel sounds during an English class focused on reading and writing. It also includes a challenge for Mrs. Boyle to help each student grow.
"I love the interaction, the relationships I get to build with my students, especially since I have them for multiple years," Mrs. Boyle said.
Mrs. Boyle has worked in the Silvis School District for the past four years, all of which as a special education teacher working with a variety of age levels. Specifically, Mrs. Boyle works with special education students in third, fourth and fifth grades.
That means there is extra time for understanding her students' needs, like for Madyson Taylor-Lannen.
"We're having a lot more time in the classroom so she's building on her math skills and reading and language skills a lot more," Mrs. Boyle said.
Madyson is building those skills thanks to someone who has always been right there.
"My daughter was diagnosed with autism at two years old and Mrs. Boyle has been an amazing teacher," Alyssa Lannen, Madyson's mom, said. "Every time my daughter goes into her meltdowns, Mrs. Boyle is right there to kind of comfort her and make her feel safe."
Lannen works with the district as a playground aide and bus monitor. She says Mrs. Boyle has become like family to Madyson.
"Mady is scared and gets anxious and doesn’t really want to come out and express to other people, but she is very close to Mrs. Boyle and is very excited to have her as a teacher for the next three years," Lannen said.
Thanks to a small class size, with only a handful of students in the room, Mrs. Boyle is able to limit loud noises and large crowds. That's something, especially for Madyson, that helps each student feel safe and welcomed at school.
To thank Mrs. Boyle, Madyson needs few words.
"My favorite teacher," Madyson said as she presented Mrs. Boyle with this year's "My Favorite Teacher" award.
"In an area like this in special education seeing all the growth, it can be hard day-to-day but knowing I'm making that difference really helps," Mrs. Boyle said.
Everyday challenges have never been this rewarding.
Watch previous "My Favorite Teacher" stories on News 8's YouTube channel
Each year, News 8 features five outstanding educators who have been nominated by students throughout eastern Iowa and western Illinois who want to recognize "My Favorite Teacher." WQAD News 8 is proud to partner with Blackhawk Bank & Trust, Bard Optical, Carpetland USA and SERVPRO for this year's contest.