posted June 14th, 2017- written by Matthew Hahn, SOE Graduate Assistant
Knowing the reputation of Buffalo State’s education programs, Dan Pyle knew where he needed to go to achieve his goals. Now an Assistant Professor at Weber State University in the Teacher Education Department, Pyle has the responsibilities of training teachers, supervising, and mentoring preservice teachers. In addition, Pyle conducts research in secondary schools to provide support for students with disabilities in order for them to successfully access general education settings.
This type of job seems like an excellent fit for Pyle, as Exceptional Education was the program he entered at Buffalo State, and has taken him to his current career. “I chose my career path to help facilitate the advancement of people with disabilities. I started working with people with disabilities in high school by working at Claddagh Commission, which was an agency that provided supports and services for adults with moderate to severe disabilities. I love helping people that have additional challenges in successfully navigating traditional life experiences. Just like other underrepresented populations, the rights and treatment of people with disabilities have come a long way over the last 30 years, but still has a long way to go. I have chosen to research, advocate, and help facilitate successful access for secondary students with disabilities into general education settings.”
Like most others who seek a career in education and helping others, Pyle was inspired by those around him. “I was most inspired by my brother Darren, who first opened my eyes to working with people with disabilities. However, there was also my friend, Jim Steffen, who helped me get a job at Claddagh Commission, and was also a student in the Exceptional Education Program at Buffalo State. He helped show me how I could continue to work with people with disabilities in a different capacity than we did during the time we worked at Claddagh Commission.”
Despite this, Pyle’s career did not come without it’s challenges. One of the biggest challenges came in the form of a cooperating teacher. “I had a very trying practicum experience placed with a general education teacher, who I felt was overly critical of my contributions as a beginning teacher, when what I really required at the time was more support. However, I was able to work through the adversity and it helps fuel my passion to ensure I give the support required to the preservice teachers I now support!”
Along with this experience, there are certain feelings that Pyle has that drive him to advance the field of special education, mainly so that students with disabilities can get the help they need. “I feel that the field of special education needs additional reform because of the unintended consequences that students with disabilities face as a result of their identification of requiring special education services. Specifically, removing children identified to receive special education services from traditional educational opportunities, with their non-identified peers, can limit the potential success and negatively impact students with disabilities’ educational experience.”
Pyle’s goals don't stop there, though. In the future, Pyle would like to see schools around the world continue to improve their treatment and inclusion of people with disabilities into society. To work towards accomplishing these goals, Pyle would need to succeed further in his career and he believes he knows what he needs to do. “I think it takes a focus on a passion that drives you, and having a plan of how to reach your goal. I believe that college is not for everyone, but if a college education is required to reach your goal, then it should be a part of the plan. People figure out their purpose and skill sets at different chronological ages.” Therefore, he stressed the idea of setting realistic and meaningful goals and always keep working toward them no matter the adversity faced or length of time to complete.
Pyle is another example of a successful and passionate educator who continues to work hard to change the lives of his students. With his passion for helping students with disabilities, he believes that Buffalo State prepared him to make a difference for those who matter the most to him. “Because of Buffalo State, I received a solid education foundation to build a career on improving the lives of people with disabilities through our education system.”
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