New Employee Profile: Brandi Baker

This is one in a series of Q&A’s with employees new to Denair Unified in 2022-23.

Family: Husband Mike, 10-year-old daughter and 4-year-old son

School: District Inclusion Specialist

Subject taught: Special Education/Inclusion

Experience and education: I have been interested in teaching special education since I attended Denair High School and worked in the moderate/severe classroom my dad taught. He taught and coached in Denair for many years. I really looked up to how he created rapport with his students and staff and taught while still allowing the students to have fun. I started out as a paraprofessional working for Stanislaus County and Turlock while I attended college. In 2007, I began teaching for Turlock Unified School District. I have taught at three different school sites and been a mentor for new teachers. I was on the district assessment team and site leadership. During my years as a teacher for TUSD, I also taught at Teachers College of San Joaquin, working with intern teachers working towards their credential. 

What attracted you to Denair? I have realized in my years of teaching that forming a community within your school is very important and having the support of the community where you work.  I love the small-town feel and I am excited to come back “home” to be a part of the community that has been created across the district. 

What most inspires you about teaching? Making a difference with a child in the slightest way. I have worked with many different students and families, and I love to see it all come together when a child makes progress not only at school but at home as well. I love working with a team who is committed to student success. I love building rapport with the students and their families.

What is a challenge you look forward to tackling this year? Learning the ropes at a new district. I know I have a lot of support and I look forward to working with the SPED team to support our students. 

What is your favorite teaching tool or activity? My absolute favorite activity I love to do with my students is working within a small group for social skills. You learn so much from students when you take the time to get to know them on a more in-depth level.  Teaching them different ways to make friends and approach different scenarios they may come across in life is so important.

What do you want your students to remember? For me, it is about making students feel loved and cared about. I remember some of my favorite teachers from Denair and they always were the teachers who cared so much about you personally. Making that connection to find the best ways for students to learn and be successful.

How can parents support what you do? Parents are such an integral part of a student’s success. Just always keeping open lines of communication and being supportive of their child.

What would surprise people about your job? I think a lot of people would be surprised at how much time is spent reviewing data, going through different ideas and scenarios with other SPED team members to come up with a plan that best fits each student’s individual needs. Working in SPED is such a rewarding experience, but it takes a lot of time and analyzing to do what is right for each student. 

What do you do for fun? Our family recently bought an RV and we have had a lot of fun camping this summer. I LOVE to shop, and if you know me you know I love Target. My absolute favorite thing to do is just spend time with my family. My parents have a Sunday dinner tradition; we all eat together and all the grandkids get to play and we all just hang out and talk this is one of my absolute favorite things to do.

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