Mornings in Molly King's classroom at Franklin Middle School in Reisterstown usually begin with some sort of activity. It's a different one for each kid and for a short amount of time.
"We do a lot of work in about 10 minute clips so they're constantly doing something new they're constantly using their hands," she said. "We've got to keep that attention."
Each of King's seven students are on the autism spectrum. Some can communicate with words and others are non-verbal. They have their own needs, their own challenges and King says its her job to find what techniques work for them.
"I just have to learn the way they can communicate or the way they learn. Just because it's not the same as every other kid, doesn't mean it's not possible."
The curriculum in King's classroom is a combination of academic and life lessons. Part of the day is spent learning math, social studies and science. The other hours of the day are focused on life skills such as learning to cook, crossing the street safely, going shopping, and learning how to properly greet people.
"We really want to prepare our kids to be functional members in the community and society so we're preparing them for the real world," she said.
This is only King's second year of teaching and her principal, Charlyne Maul, says the work she does with her students is like that of a veteran teacher.
"I think because she's so consistent and naturally happy that people are just drawn to her," Maul said. "She brings this young energy and fire that kids love to be around.
Though her time as a teacher has been short, King knows this is her calling to work with special needs children. She is their advocate, their motivator, their voice. When others say they can't, she tells them they can.
"You have to want the kids to succeed and want them to do better or else you wouldn't be here."
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