I, Mrs. Amy Ott, am currently the Functional Life Skills Teacher at Helena Middle School, in Helena, Montana, teaching students with moderate to severe special needs. Over my time as an educator, I have found the FLS classroom to be extremely challenging, yet the most rewarding position as a special education teacher. It is my desire to help students with special needs become independent life-long members of their community.
To begin with, I am a wife of a hard-working self-employed business owner and a mother of three boys (ages: 15, 13, and 6), whom are strong-willed, active, and growing boys. When I am not in the classroom, our family is outdoors; hiking, boating, hunting, and camping. I enjoy documenting our family stories through photography and scrap booking. My family keeps me grounded and supports all my endeavors.
I pursued my enthusiasm of children, by earning a Bachelor of Arts degree from Florida Gulf Coast University and becoming a special education teacher in 2002. Over the last nineteen years, I have taught a variety of students with special needs. I began my teaching career in Florida, in a general education high school setting, as a resource teacher for students with learning disabilities and as a co-teacher for student council. Here, I taught students with learning disabilities and assisted them with their transition services to becoming an independent adult and supporting them in finding a functional job to meet their abilities and skills.
The first four years at HMS, I taught in the Positive Behavior Support Program, teaching students with behavioral and mental health needs. In the last eight years at HMS, I have been building a successful Functional Life Skills Program. I believe students with unique needs, no matter the challenges, can all learn with time and specific programming. Whether it’s academic support needed due to low cognition, medical support due to their syndromes, communication support for non-verbal students, or functional support to learn independent life skills, everyone can learn. Building an environment that is realistic to the real-world, creates a practical environment for students to understand their own abilities. Within my classroom and instruction, I include job skills, such as working in the copy shop or sorting mail in the teacher workroom. In my classroom, you will find a mock grocery store to help students learn necessary life skills, then extending the skills with experiences to real grocery stores. Teaching students the independent necessities are very important for their self-confidence and self-esteem. It is my vision that all students can be independent in their own way, and it’s my passion to support students in teaching them how to become self-sufficient within their community.