ANCHORAGE -

Two days into the new school year, the Anchorage School District wants to fill its void of special education teachers, but officials say that's not an easy task to accomplish.

While being understanding and passionate is a must to work in special education, if your are part of the Anchorage School District's special education staff, you better prepare to use all of your qualifications at any given time.

Just ask Russian Jack Elementary special ed resource teacher Lisa Watts, who works with special education students in kindergarten through second grade.

"Reading, writing, math, I also work with kids on behavioral or social skills," Watts said. "We also hold meetings, do paperwork, and do teaching on top of that."

And while that back and forth and detail to attention are part of the job, Watts says its also what makes it so demanding.

"It's usually a crazy day where I'm always in and out of my classroom," Watts said. "I think it's rewarding, it's a definitely different than being a general education teacher and I just think that they are looking for those highly qualified teachers."

Special education skills are needed more than ever. With more than 6,700 special education students, ASD is having a hard time filling the jobs required to teach them. Out of 70 district openings, 38 are in that department.

Assistant superintendent Linda Carlson says that's because there's not enough people in that state who can step in a classroom immediately.

"You are looking for individuals that not only have a teacher certification but they also have the endorsements and qualifications to work with special education students," Carlson said. "All of our children deserve the best and these kids have a highly individualized education plan and that is what we are here to meet."

It's a privilege to enrich some of the lives of Anchorage's children that special ed teachers like Watts are hoping more people want to be apart of.

ASD says while it recruits all over the country to bring in special education teachers as well as special education related services positions, to make sure no child misses out, it contracts services, offers part time employment, and has even extended the school year out to students, to give them access to core curriculum.

Corey Allen-Young KTUU Channel 2 Reporter cyoung@ktuu.com 744-2642 cell