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How Will I Know What I Need to Know?
by Nicole Chiarello

Nicole Chiarello is working toward National Board Certification as an Early Childhood through Young Adulthood Exceptional Needs Specialist.

August 18, 2003

After attending a class for candidates for Board Certification, some of my questions had been answered, but some remain.

I'm working toward a certificate as an exceptional needs specialist, which covers early childhood through young adult. I currently work in a district wide program for students with emotional and behavioral concerns in grades three through five. That means my current students are 8 to11 years old. How am I supposed to take an exam that covers ages 3 to 21? Also, I'm originally from New York State, and my degree is in special needs - learning and behavior disorders. I've taken maybe one class on students with multiple disabilities and physical handicaps, yet all that information will be covered on my test as well. I hope my parents kept some of my college textbooks, because it looks like I'll need them to study!

I also think I should start to subscribe to at least one educational publication in my field. Some of the other Board candidates have talked about ones to which they subscribe, and I think the right publication will help me stay on top of the most current research and best practices. On Monday, I'll contact my school district's special education department to see if someone there can recommend the best publication for me.

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Meet Nicole Chiarello

Nicole Chiarello received her bachelor's degree in psychology from the University at Buffalo, of the State University of New York, in May 1994 and her master's degree in special education, learning and behavior disorders from Buffalo State College in December 1996. For the remainder of the 1996-1997 academic year, Nicole worked as an inclusion teacher at Niagara-Wheatfield Senior High School in Sanborn, N.Y. For the past six years, she has taught a district-wide special education program for three-to-five students with emotional and behavioral concerns at Bradford Elementary School in Westerly, Rhode Island. Nicole was named Wal-Mart Teacher of the Year in 2000. She is currently serving on a district team focusing on social, emotional, and behavioral concerns in the classroom.

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