PIQUA — Kristen Barchenger, the new special education teacher for PHS, is thrilled to continue her career, dedicating her life to teaching and helping our special needs students. This will be her third year teaching; she taught in both Fairborn and Bryan High School before entering PHS.
Although she teaches in Ohio, she originates from Illinois, having attended Wheaton North High School and Illinois State University with a major in special education. It seems that education is a trait carried throughout the Barchenger family as well as compassion and respect for the physically and mentally disabled.
When asked if anyone else in her family taught, she said, “Yes, my mom. She taught children that were deaf and hard of hearing because my father was deaf also.” Her mother’s inspiring treatment of the handicapped appears to have been the catalyst for her entering the teaching field. She said, “I just really like helping these kids learn and improve. I feel like a lot of people don’t see them for who they are.” In fact, she feels that simply working with these students is one of her job’s greatest benefits.
Not only has her teaching career helped her students, it has also helped her. She said, “I’m more patient and don’t take things for granted as much.” However, there are some aspects of the job that can become difficult, even strenuous. Not being able to communicate with her students fully and seeing them grapple with issues other students otherwise would not is especially wrenching.
But she loves what she does. When asked what the most rewarding aspect of her job was, she said, “Seeing them accomplish the small tasks, watching them get excited and seeing yourself get excited for them. It makes you feel good.”