My name is Tom Vlassenko and I started teaching at Northern in 2006. I’m a Learning Specialist in the High School in the area of World History and United States History. For me as an educator, I have the opportunity to work with many students over the course of their entire high school years. People often focus on the deficiencies of special needs children, but I feel more attention should be focused on their gifts. As a special education teacher and advocate, I encourage all students to understand and celebrate the differences that make each individual special. I believe that understanding diversity is an important skill not only as part of a classroom, but as part of a community and a citizen of the world. There are many different types of people in the world, and people should learn from one another instead of judging others who are different. I believe that the modern day teacher should teach more than just academics. The teacher should also help teach the student valuable social skills. I teach the way I teach because these kids need someone to believe in them. Some of them need a support system in school, even if it is to just say, “Great job”. I teach this way because I care.