Special Education ESP Strives to Create a Joyful Learning Environment for Students

By Kate Anslinger

Andrew Carver is no stranger to the Winthrop school district. In fact, he is a Special Education ESP (Education Support Personnel) at the Gorman Fort Banks School, where he attended second grade in a classroom led by Mrs. Polo, a teacher who he now works alongside.

Carver, who is originally from Winthrop, attended BC High and graduated from Saint Michael’s College in 2001 with a degree in psychology. Since he was 16 years old, he’s worked off and on as a camp counselor at Buckingham, Brown and Nichols School in Cambridge, where he focused on sports and physical education. Having a background in both playing and teaching athletics, Carver brings the importance of physical education to the classroom today, by encouraging students to keep on moving. He is a firm believer that physical activity drives mental clarity.


If you weren’t in the educational field, what other profession could you see yourself doing?

If I weren’t in the educational field I’d most likely be in the restaurant business. I spent three years living abroad in Mexico helping a friend open restaurants in the Cancun area.  Even now I still bartend at G Bar and Kitchen in Swampscott.


Has anyone inspired you along the way?

Growing up I was definitely influenced by my second grade teacher, Mrs. Polo, who still works with me at the Fort Banks School.  She had (and still has) a perfect way of creating a wonderful learning environment where students look forward to coming to school.  That style has definitely helped mold me into the educator I am today. If students are enjoying the learning experience, they are more likely to be successful at school.  The last thing I want is for children to think of school as “boring.”


What is an average day in the classroom like?

I’ve been working as a Special Education Assistant at the Gorman Fort Banks School for 6 years.  Much of my day is spent doing math or science activities with small groups of second grade students.  Some students are in need of extra exposure to the math lesson of the week, while other groups I work with are ready for an accelerated learning experience.  I always try to build in movement breaks as part of our time together.  This usually includes a few minutes of push-ups, sit-ups and jumping jacks.  Students try to do more reps of the exercise each time.  I’ve found this to be an excellent stimulant to keep students alert during our group lessons.  I know that many teachers around the building also use similar strategies in their classrooms.


Do your students inspire you?

I spend some of time with some students who have physical disabilities.  I am very much inspired by these children, who have to overcome many difficulties just to get through a normal school day.  Most of us don’t realize how lucky we are just to have the physical gifts we were born with. These students have provided me with plenty of inspiration over the years and I feel extremely privileged to be able to work with them every day.

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