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Teacher of the Week: Joseph Innella

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Students call him “Mr. I” and its no wonder they’re on a nickname basis with him. Mr. I works with special needs children at Sunset Park Elementary and often works with the same students from kindergarten through fifth grade. Alias Woolens is spending his last year with Mr. I before heading to middle school. His mother, Charlene Cliborne, nominated Mr. I and said “All of the children have their own individual needs and somehow Mr. I finds a way to reach and to bring out each personality.”

“I watched most of these kids grow from kindergarten,” Mr. I said. “And now its on to fifth grade and so that was a big experience that made it family.” His current students make up the first group he was able to spend year after year teaching. Innella said he knows each of them inside and out. “That helps with the nonverbal students because you don’t know what’s wrong a lot of the time, but when you have them so long you can read their emotions; when they’re sick and when they’re tired or just in a bad mood,” he said.

Bad moods don’t last long though. Instead smiles and hugs are more common. The entire class joined in making Mr. I’s check presentation before each taking a turn using the WWAY microphone to do their own individual presentations for fun. The light shined through their eyes as Mr. I stood and smiled, cheering each child on.

He plans to use his $400 gift card to purchase new sensory items for his students.

“He spends his own items on sensory items for the classroom,” she said. “He loves each one of these kids as his own.”


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