Buckeye special education teacher Erin Juarez was recognized by a national organization as the Southwest region’s teacher of the year. Philadelphia-based Special Education Services Inc. bestowed that honor upon her for her work during the 2021-22 school year.

Juarez, who has taught kindergarten through fourth grade special education for four years at Sierra School of Liberty, was nominated for the award by her supervisor for her strong work ethic. She was emotional when she learned that her hard work and commitment to improving her students’ lives had been recognized and validated by SESI.

“I’ve gone above and beyond (in my work) and have really pushed these students more than some have ever been pushed to excel,” she said.

Teaching special education is challenging. Some of Juarez’s students are autistic, others have emotional needs, and still others have disabilities.

“Every kid is different and at different levels of their understanding,” she said. ”Every kid can learn. It’s just finding the right way for them to learn.”