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Tools for Teachers: Hamilton Elementary teacher thinks outside the box

A life skills teacher gets creative with her students while teaching them everyday abilities to get through life.

MOLINE, Ill. — Learning the ups and downs of the outside world starts inside Jean Depoorter's classroom.

"I like working with the special needs kids... just to see those small steps that they make." says Depoorter. 

She's been a life skills teacher at Hamilton Elementary for fifteen years. Teaching students who need some extra help on how to discover new ideas inside the box. Like using sensory containers. 

"Them learning skills that the world would say they can't learn but we can see past that and we see the potential in them." says Deporter. 

Supplies, like the sensory containers, she usually buys out of pocket. 

"It takes a very special person to be able to do what she does every day and to meed the needs challenges of her students and to do it with energy and with a smile on her face." says Todd Williams, principal of Hamilton Elementary. 

That's why Jean Depoorter is this month's lucky winner of the $200 Tools for Teachers contest, sponsored by Carpetland U.S.A. 

"There's some things that we need just for some sensory input. Some like the sensory boxes we use. So, those kinds of things and a lot of times I buy it mostly out of my own money so this will be nice to have money to support those." says Depoorter. 

It's the learning that starts inside her classroom, that allows her students to eventually think outside the box. 

"It's just nice to be recognized." says Depoorter. 

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