Our Academy at Riverdale has a new director in the lead. Karye Brockert comes to the private school for children with developmental disabilities with years of educational experience. The mother of a child with a developmental disability, she provides further insight to fellow educators and parents.
Karye performs many duties as director of the Academy. First and foremost, she says, it is her job to make the school “the best in Arkansas for children with disabilities.” She works with students one-to-one to assist teachers and paraprofessionals in providing a high-quality education to meet each of their needs. “I support the teachers and paras to increase their abilities and I provide the information, training and modeling that will allow them to maximize their skills.”
For the first 11 years of her 17-year career in education, Karye was an elementary school teacher in general education classrooms. Her path took a different direction when her daughter was born. Maddie has Autism Spectrum Disorder.
“My husband and I knew she was something special from the day she was born,” she says. “She has opened my eyes to a world and a community that I can’t imagine being without. She has taught me so much about being a teacher, mother, and friend and it is that experience that led me to special education. At first, I wanted to be better at teaching her, but as time went on, I realized how rich my life was with such a wonderfully diverse and unique group of students. Although it was not my initial path, I can’t imagine my life without these kids.”
Karye also teaches a class at Henderson State University and has been providing professional development to educators across the state for the past three years. “Just like the rest of life, it’s had its ups and its downs, but I know it is my calling and I will teach as long as I can,” she says.
At the end of the day what keeps Karye motivated to stay in the special education field are the children. “I am motivated by how genuine these kids are and by the opportunity to see their courage and their joy every day. I have the opportunity to celebrate what most consider insignificant events because of how huge it is for these kids. If life is about the simple pleasures, I am blessed with tons of them every day.”
Karye has big hopes for the Academy and how it impacts both current and future students as well as educators. She wants to the school to be the focal point of special education in Arkansas. “I want kids and parents from all over to feel they have a place that will accept them for who they are and work to provide them an education that will allow them to grow. I want the Academy to be a place that kids want to come to school and parents want to send their children. I want the Academy to be a place where teachers and administrators come from all over the state to improve their skills and grow as professionals in teaching students with special needs. I want for the children of Arkansas what I want for my own child.”
In her spare time, Karye strives to spend as much time as possible with her family, including her daughter and Ben, her husband of 13 years. “Sometimes I think that we are our own reality show. Life is always an adventure with my family.”