Special Education Advisor - Winnifred Morris
Meet Winnifred Morris, a Special Education Advisor in Palmerston North
Winnifred Morris is a full time Special Education Advisor with the Ministry of Education in Palmerston North – a role she’s held for seven years.
A fluent speaker of te reo Māori, she affiliates to the north-eastern iwi of Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki and Te Atiawa in the central south of the North Island.
Winnifred has a teaching diploma and a Bachelor’s Degree in the Arts. She has enjoyed a varied education career, having taught in the primary school and tertiary sectors and having been a long standing union representative with the New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI).
Having a general knowledge of special education and an indepth understanding of the school system are ideal attributes for a Special Education Advisor, says Winnifred Morris.
"Many of us come out of the classroom, giving us familiarity with school systems and curriculum. It means we’re in a good position to build rapport with school staff because we’ve spent years working alongside them, talking with them, sharing their issues."
And, in part, that’s what drew Winnifred to the role of Special Education Advisor – along with the potential of the new curriculum to deliver positive outcomes for students with special education needs.
"The principles emphasise inclusion and meeting the education needs of all students, which is vital for the success of our students," she says.
She works with approximately 36 students from her base in Palmerston North, usually in the role of lead worker with students with high and very high needs.
In practice, that involves liaising with all the people who make up a child’s support team from parents, specialists through to school staff, particularly special education needs coordinators.
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The rewards and challenges
"I really enjoy the change this role has provided me with – it enables me to build on and continue developing a long-standing, professional career," says Winnifred.
"That’s why I’d really recommend it to teachers looking for something related, yet different. It’s a role that maintains your involvement with highly-trained, high-quality professionals and it will continue to challenge you."
In fact, she says, the challenges within the role are many and varied. They include everything from being highly organised, managing the expectations of harassed families, keeping up-to-date with the latest evidence and so on.
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Her future aspirations
"My future aspirations? I have to say I’m very happy where I am. For now, this is great."
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